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Lufthansa pilots’ union rejects offer but ends strikes
Published on 26-11-2016 - at 03:45' by Al Jazeera

Since the walkout began on Wednesday more than 315,000 passengers have been affected.

Lufthansa’s pilots’ union said on Friday it rejected the airline’s latest pay offer, only hours after it was made, but added it has no plans now for further strikes beyond Saturday.

While not ruling out further action, the union said that any strikes would be announced 24 hours in advance.

Lufthansa said earlier on Friday it had offered to increase wages by 4.4 percent in two instalments, as well as a one-off payment equal to 1.8 months’ pay.

The union said the offer was not new as it had already been proposed to workers two months ago and it dismissed Lufthansa’s statement on Friday as a "public relations move".

This week’s walkout - the 14th since early 2014 - has already grounded some 2,600 planes and affected more than 315,000 passengers. Lufthansa has said the disruption has started to hit medium-term bookings.

The German airline also said it had offered to create 1,000 jobs for junior pilots and up to 600 pilot traineeships over the next five years. It said it could enter mediation talks with the union on November 29.

In return, pilots would have to agree to a change to their pension scheme in which Lufthansa would only guarantee paid-in contributions. Cabin crew and ground staff have already agreed to these changes.

Pilots had been threatening to extend the strike beyond Saturday, raising concerns among investors at the growing cost to the company and the wider impact on Europe’s largest economy.

Lufthansa says it has to cut costs to compete with leaner rivals such as Ryanair on short-haul routes and Emirates on long-haul flights, despite making a record profit in 2015.

Lufthansa pilots are well paid by industry standards. A pilot at Lufthansa earns on average $190,000 a year before tax, though a captain on the highest pay level can earn as much as $23,000 a month before tax.

Lufthansa had earlier said it would be forced to cancel a further 137 flights on Saturday, including 88 intercontinental flights, affecting some 30,000 travellers. Some short- and medium-haul flights would also be affected, it said.

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Lufthansa has put the cost of the strike at around $11 million per day

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