* Union calls for warning strike ahead of talks on Friday
* Strike likely to last from 0400 GMT to 0900 GMT
* Frankfurt and Hamburg airports to be most affected
* Shares down 0.2 percent
By Maria Sheahan
FRANKFURT, March 20 Deutsche Lufthansa
has cancelled more than 500 flights after German union Verdi
called on 33,000 workers at the company to go on strike on
Thursday over a wage dispute.
The strike is expected to last for about five hours from 5am
(0400 GMT), the union said on Wednesday, setting the stage for
the next round of wage talks on Friday.
Efforts by big European airlines such as Lufthansa and Air
France-KLM to shrink costs in the face of soaring jet
fuel prices and fierce competition from Middle Eastern airlines
and low-cost carriers have fanned tensions with workers.
Strikes at Spanish airline Iberia, for instance,
caused thousands of flight cancellations at a cost of about 30
million euros ($38.7 million) until workers accepted a mediated
deal last week.
In negotiations that started last month, Germany's Verdi is
demanding a 5.2 percent increase in wages for 12 months for
employees at Lufthansa Cargo, Lufthansa Technik, Lufthansa
Systems, catering unit LSG Sky Chefs and ground crews, as well
as a commitment by Lufthansa to safeguard jobs.
Lufthansa, Europe's biggest airline by revenue, has said it
wants to freeze pay and ask employees to work one hour more each
week to help it to remain competitive in a tough market. Verdi
called that counter-demand a "provocation" and called on
Lufthansa to make a new offer.
Thursday's strike will affect operations across Germany,
though Hamburg and the airline's main hub in Frankfurt will be
most affected, the union said.
A list posted on the airline's website on Wednesday
afternoon showed a total of 514 cancelled flights, mostly to
German and European destinations. Lufthansa said it aims to get
most intercontinental flights off the ground despite the strike.
Travellers in Germany have already suffered this year as
repeated strikes by airport security staff caused cancellations
Strikes, capacity cuts by airlines and harsh winter weather
led to a 3.6 percent decline in passenger numbers at German
airports in January and February, the worst start to the year
since 2009, airports group ADV said on Wednesday.
Shares in Lufthansa were down 0.4 percent at 16.24 euros by
1442 GMT, while Germany's blue-chip DAX index was up