* More than 90 percent of pilots vote for strike
* For now, no plans for action over Easter holidays
* Lufthansa says it has no new offer
(Adds Lufthansa reaction, background, shares)
By Kirsti Knolle and Victoria Bryan
FRANKFURT, March 21 German airline Lufthansa
is facing more strike woes after pilots voted to
bolster their demands for better pay and working conditions with
More than 90 percent of the German flagship carrier's pilots
voted in favour of going on strike, union Vereinigung Cockpit
(VC), which represents about 5,400 Lufthansa pilots, said on
"No one of us really wants to strike and we've been
negotiating very patiently, but our patience has run out," the
pilots' chief negotiator Thomas von Sturm told journalists.
VC board member Ilona Ritter said the union had not set a
date yet for the strike, to give Lufthansa time for a new offer,
but did not plan, for now, to call it over the Easter holidays.
Lufthansa's passengers were among the worst affected by a
strike by security staff at Frankfurt airport, the airline's
home base, last month.
The carrier is in the middle of a restructuring programme,
dubbed SCORE, which aims to improve operating profit by 1.5
billion euros compared with 2011.
It has already agreed pay deals with ground staff and cabin
crew, leaving the pilots as the final major frontline staff
group with which it has to reach agreement.
The current dispute concerns both pay increases and so-
called 'transition contracts' awarded to pilots retiring before
the legal pension age officially kicks in.
As the retirement age of pilots was raised in recent years
and now, following a European court ruling, stands at age 65,
Lufthansa has terminated a previous transition agreement as per
31 December 2013.
VC, on the other hand, says being a pilot is a stressful job
and they should be given the option of retiring early. It says
the average age of pilots leaving the company is 59.
On Friday, the union said it would announce any strike
action 48 hours in advance to give passengers time to change
their travel plans.
"We will reconsider our plans should Lufthansa challenge
us," VC board member Ritter said, referring to the Easter
The airline responded that it had not changed its position
and had no new offer. "We call on returning to the negotiation
table," a Lufthansa spokesperson said.
Analysts at Barclays estimate Lufthansa's staff costs are 15
percent lower than at Air France, but still around
10-15 percent higher than at British Airways.
Lufthansa shares were down 0.4 percent by 1200 GMT on
Friday, underperforming the Stoxx Europe 600 Travel & Leisure
index which was up 0.4 percent.
The pilots last took strike action in 2010, causing the
cancellation of hundreds of flights in a row over shifting
contracts to different units within the Lufthansa group with
(Editing by Susan Fenton)