Hundreds of Lufthansa flights were canceled on Saturday after a cabin crew union launch series of walkouts Friday that could become the longest ever strike at the carrier. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Hundreds of Lufthansa flights were canceled on Saturday after a cabin crew union started a series of walkouts Friday that could become the longest ever strike at the carrier. The walkout comes after Lufthansa and the union failed to reach an agreement on early retirement benefits and pensions. Passengers are frustrated. (SOUNDBITE) (German) PASSENGER HERBERT HAASE (VIENNA), SAYING: "I can only understand this a little bit. Because it is blackmail. A small group wants to make their mark and a hundred thousand have to come and 'kiss their hands'. This is blackmail. And normally in Europe we try to find a compromise through talks and negotiations. But if one side is not ready to do so and reaches for the strongest weapon, then this is a pathetic display. For both sides." The spokesperson for the cabin crew workers union UFO Nicoley Baublies says talking has not been enough. (SOUNDBITE) (German) SPOKESPERSON FOR LUFTHANSA CABIN CREW WORKERS UNION UFO, NICOLEY BAUBLIES, SAYING: "So after two years of negotiation, it does not work anymore via talks only. So we now go on strike, for the first time." Without concessions the union says it will carry more walkouts until Nov. 13 Lufthansa spokesperson Andrea Barrels says that will mean a lot of canceled flights -- (SOUNDBITE) (German) LUFTHANSA SPOKESMAN, ANDREA BARRELS, SAYING: "Today, 520 flights are being affected. Especially flights within Germany and Europe which we had to cancel here in Frankfurt, 6 in Duesseldorf. But the intercontinental flights operate according to plan. 50,000 passenger are affected today by the strike. Strikes by pilots have already cost Lufthansa 130 million euros so far this year.