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Massive Strike at Lufthansa as Pilots Walk

**UPDATE** The strike is over, for now: The BBC is reporting that the strike has been suspended for two weeks to allow both sides to resume negotiations.

Pilots at Lufthansa began a planned four-day strike today, a move designed to inflict sharp financial pain on the carrier.  The New York Times reports that the strike will cause the cancellation of 800 of the airline's daily scheduled 1,800 flights, and cost Lufthansa roughly $34 million per day.

According to the Times, "The airline said most of the cancelled flights were on domestic German routes, where Lufthansa was offering to rebook passengers on trains to their destinations. For European and intercontinental flights, the carrier said it was re-booking passengers whenever possible with its partners within the Star Alliance. Lufthansa said it planned to maintain all flights on routes where it has no airline partners."

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Lufthansa has posted special schedules of the flights it expects to operate today (here), though representatives told the Times that cancellations would likely increase as the days wear on. There is an FAQ for customers here.

As for the cause of the strike, the Times reports that the pilots union "voted last week to strike after failing to secure guarantees from the airline that it would not seek to migrate cockpit jobs to the company’s foreign subsidiaries such as Austrian Airlines and British Midland, which pay their flight crews less."

Last-ditch attempts at reaching an agreement this weekend failed, despite efforts from the German transport minister. Both sides said they hoped to return to the bargaining table today.

This is the third major labor dispute to heat up in the past three months, and the first to actually result in a strike. Back in December, a British judge had to intervene on what would have been a crippling Christmas strike at British Airways, and American Airlines is preparing for a possible flight attendants' strike this spring.

Were you scheduled to fly on Lufthansa this week? Has the strike affected your travels?

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