Lufthansa pilots stage walkout

Lufthansa pilots have gone on strike over disputes about retirement benefits.

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By :  ,  Financial Analyst

Lufthansa pilots have staged another strike this time over retirement benefits.

The move has forced the cancellation of 1,350 flights affecting over 150,000 passengers, the German airline confirmed. The strike is set to impact on short- and medium-haul flights from 11:00 GMT to 23:00 GMT today (December 1st). Long-haul and cargo flights will also be affected on Tuesday.

It is the ninth time since April that Lufthansa staff have taken industrial action and comes as the airline prepares for the busy Christmas period. Pilots had been in talks with the carrier to find a resolution to the dispute but the discussions have broken down. Lufthansa wants new talks to take place with pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) and has condemned the strikes as being disproportionate.

Pilots at Europe's largest airline can currently retire at the age of 55 and receive up to 60 per cent of their pay until the standard retirement age of 65. However, Lufthansa wants to phase out this early retirement scheme to the dismay of the pilots. The company stated that it had made concessions in recent talks which have included a five per cent pay rise.

Speaking to Reuters TV in Frankfurt Airport, Elfriede Bretagne, Lufthansa passenger, said: "They [Lufthansa pilots] should have their money, but for us this is all very obstructive. If you want to go somewhere on vacation and have it ruined for you, it's not ok. They should sit down and come to an agreement."

The strikes have affected Lufthansa's performance substantially in the past year knocking $160 million (£102 million) off its operating profits. It has also forced it to revise its operating profit guidance for 2015 from €2 billion (£1.6 billion) to an unspecified amount. However, the figure is expected to a "significant improvement" on the €1 billion result for 2014.

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