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Aviation

Lufthansa strike ends, pilots' pay dispute stays open

A three-day pilots' strike that grounded some 3,800 Lufthansa flights has drawn to a close. The pilots' union has pledged no further disruptions around the Easter holiday, but a permanent solution is lacking.

The German pilots' "Cockpit" trade union ended its three-day strike at midnight (22:00 UTC), with a largely normal service expected to resume on Saturday.

In a statement on its website, however, Lufthansa said a few cancellations might still occur.

Roughly 5,400 staff were protesting for better pay and against changes that would make it more difficult for pilots to take early retirement.

Lufthansa's Kay Kratky said on Friday in Frankfurt that the German flagship carrier was not planning another offer to its disgruntled staff, saying the company's previous offers had provided enough new material to warrant fresh negotiations. Promising further talks "in the coming days," Kratky said Lufthansa would first focus on putting the strike's consequences behind them.

Kratky described the costs of the three-day strike as "imposing," estimating the figure to lie in the region of 35-75 million euros ($48-103 million).

Kratky said Lufthansa feared a further cost in the long term, pointing to the string of strikes that have affected German airlines in recent months. Examples include a security staff strike in February, and another including staff such as ground handling crews in March - part of a broader public sector strike that also hit land-based public transport.

The Lufthansa manager said that continued disruptions at airports might prompt travelers to seek out alternative carriers: "That is also bad for Germany as a center of business," she said.

Kratky's airline has called for protection designed to limit the impact of strike actions during this week's disruptions, arguing that a minimum level of transport provision should be legally assured.

Lufthansa CEO Christoph Franz appealed in the business daily Handlesblatt for restrictions on the right to strike.

"From our perspective, even during a strike, there should be a requirement to maintain a minimum level of the most critical transport infrastructure, including the rail network and the security of flights," Franz told Handelsblatt in an interview published in full on Friday.

msh/rc (dpa, AFP, Reuters, AP)

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