Lufthansa pilots started a three-day walkout in a dispute over early retirement grounding the airline.

New York (AirGuideBusiness - Business & Industry Features) Wed, Apr 2, 2014 - Lufthansa pilots started a three-day walkout on Wednesday Apr. 2 in a dispute over early retirement, effectively grounding Germany's largest airline in one of the biggest strikes to hit the company. The pilots want Lufthansa to reinstate a scheme that enabled them to receive 60 percent of their pay when they left their jobs before the legal retirement age. Lufthansa pilots used to have to retire at 60, leaving them with a five-year gap before legal retirement provisions kicked in at 65. However, the retirement age for pilots was raised to 65 in Europe in 2011 and so Lufthansa says the scheme is no longer needed. "This is a massive attack on our social rights," Markus Wahl, board member of pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) told reporters at Frankfurt airport. "We have to send out a clear message." VC represents most of Lufthansa's 5,400 pilots. Analysts estimate the strike could cost the airline EURa[logical not]50 million (USD$69 million) in lost profit. Lufthansa made a EURa[logical not]313 million net profit last year. "We are prepared but this is not a good day for Lufthansa or our passengers," a Lufthansa spokeswoman said. Brad Doble, managing director of Munich-based branding consultants Lambie-Nairn, said the strike would make passengers think...

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