Lufthansa union to extend strike to Friday

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Lufthansa pilots plan a third day of striking on Friday, following two days of planned action on Wednesday and Thursday, potentially disrupting thousands of passengers.

The Friday strike will affect short- and medium-haul flights, similar to Wednesday's action.

Pilots staged a walk-out for long-haul flights on Thursday.

The pilots' union is hoping strikes will put pressure on management during negotiations on retirement benefits.

Lufthansa spokesman Martin Riecken said the company would be able to fly three-quarters of flights on Friday across all carriers under the Lufthansa group, including Swiss International and Austrian Airlines. He said the company would like to resume negotiations with the union.

Lufthansa wanted to get rid of a programme that allows pilots to retire at age 55 and receive up to 60% of their pay until they reach the statutory retirement age of 65.

Competition and values

Mr Ricecken says a new deal has been tabled by the airline offering to continue the benefit for existing pilots, but with a higher average retirement age of 61 and closing the scheme to new pilots.

The airline has been plagued by strikes, which last year cost it €232m (£165m).

"It's not about preventing strategic business decisions," said Jorg Handwerg, a spokesman for the union, Vereinigung Cockpit, in a statement on its website. "Competition should not lead to a sell-off of the values ​​that have a significant role in ensuring that Lufthansa has become one of the world's leading aerospace companies."

The moves are intended as a cost-savings effort, as Lufthansa struggles to compete with low-cost competitors and rivals such as Emirates and Turkish Airlines.

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