Lufthansa pilots extend strike

<p>Lufthansa pilots have expanded strike action to include long-haul destinations.</p>

Shares in German airline Lufthansa continued to fall after pilots announced that a strike will be expanded to long-haul destinations.

The airline opened 1.20 per cent lower at 11.52 on Monday (October 20th) morning as pilots embarked on a 35-hour strike. Staff working on short-haul routes to mainly European destinations will be joined by colleagues from long-haul services on Tuesday. It is expected to affect thousands of travellers with around 1,450 flights cancelled.

It represents the eighth Lufthansa strike this year as pilots are unhappy about plans to change retirement and pension terms. The workers union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), which represents around 5,400 Lufthansa pilots, has called on the company to reconsider to raise the age they can retire from 55.

This latest industrial action comes just a week after Germanwings, Lufthansa's low cost subsidiary, pilots announced a 12-hour strike over the same issue. At the moment, pilots working for Germany's flag carrying airline, can retire at 55 but continue to draw a substantial transition payment, up to 60 per cent of their salary until the official retirement age.

Lufthansa had been looking to increase the age where new recruits would qualify for the scheme and had offered to retain it for existing members. However, this has not been accepted by the union and prompted strike action.

Prior to the Germanwings strike, the union said in a statement: "Regrettably Lufthansa has not acted on the compromise proposals of VC after seven strikes now since April this year and is stonewalling."

German travellers were also hit by disruption on the rails with cancellations and delays throughout the weekend. The industrial action, which was not linked to the Lufthansa strikes, saw only a third of inter-city train running and left many travellers stranded. Deutsche Bahn confirmed that normal services would resume on Monday.

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