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Lufthansa pilots suspend strike news
23 February 2010

Frankfurt: Lufthansa pilots, who went on strike yesterday in support of their demands, have now agreed to suspend the action for two weeks. The strike grounded about 900 flights on Monday.

At a court hearing late Monday, pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) agreed to suspend industrial action till 8 March so that both sides could resume talks.

Welcoming the decision, Lufthansa cautioned passengers that it would take a few days for flight operations to normalize again.

In a related development, rival British Airways' cabin crew has now voted to strike to protest harsh cost cutting measures adopted by the management.

Some 4,000 Lufthansa pilots had walked out on their jobs on Monday in a action that was meant to spread out over four days. The pilots are concerned that the company could try to cut staff costs by shifting jobs to foreign units. Cash-rich Lufthansa has been on an acquisition spree that has seen it pick up a number of struggling airlines around Europe.

By last year September it had completed acquisition of Brussels Airlines, Austrian Airlines and BMI. It also launched Lufthansa Italia.

The pilots have offered to relinquish pay increases provided they are granted some control over which routes or pilot jobs are transferred to other group airlines. Lufthansa has rejected that demand.

Faced with global recession, which hit the aviation sector hard, Lufthansa announced plans to cut 1 billion euros ($1.36 billion) in costs by 2011, and to become a leaner organisation even as it expanded abroad.

European flag carriers, with multiple fare structures, are having a hard time preserving market share against low-cost airlines, such as Ryanair and EasyJet.

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Lufthansa pilots suspend strike