German flagship carrier Lufthansa cancels 1,350 flights, or 48 percent of scheduled services, as pilots stage their ninth walkout this year. Hayley Platt reports
It's their ninth walkout this year. Causing almost half of Lufthansa's flights to be cancelled. The pilot's union began a two-day strike on Monday after it failed to reach an agreement with the airline over early retirement benefits. Eight strikes have already wiped 160 million euros off Lufthansa's profits. This latest action could add millions more. And affect 150,000 passengers. (SOUNDBITE) (German) PASSENGER, ELFRIEDE BRETAGNE, SAYING: "It is very inconvenient for all of us and when you want to go on holiday somewhere, it spoils everything." The airline wants to phase out its early retirement scheme, something the pilots strongly oppose. They're currently able to retire at 55 and receive up to 60 percent of their pay before full pension kicks in at 65. Lufthansa says it has made concessions, including giving pilots a 5% pay rise. But it won't budge on the issue of retirement. The union says they simply can't agree on the main issues. SOUNDBITE: Joerg Handwerg, Vereinigung Cockpit Trade Union Board member, saying (Germany): "They don't want future colleagues to receive anymore benefits at all and we say that we cannot support this. We are prepared to contribute to cost reductions, but we are not prepared to sacrifice the entire system for those who joined after us." The costly strikes has seen the carrier lower its profit guidance for 2015 for the second time this year. Joe Rundle from ETX Capital says it can't go on for much longer. SOUNDBITE: Jo Rundle, Head of Trading, ETX Capital, saying (English): "People who are booking business travel around Europe or long-haul are just going to stay clear of them at the moment and its damaging for the brand beyond those numbers of 160 million so I think they will reach some settlement it's just they don't want to bow down to the pressure because the airline industry is incredibly tight." Lower oil prices may help to ease the pain a little. But continued industrial action won't do much for Lufthansa's growth plans. It wants to expand its low-cost operations to compete with budget carriers and its Gulf rivals.