Lufthansa pilots suspend strike after talksFebruary 23rd, 2010 - 3:12 am ICT by IANS
Frankfurt, Feb 23 (DPA) A pilots’ union has suspended till March 8 a strike that has badly disrupted Lufthansa flights, telling a labour court Monday it would resume talks with the German airline.
The union, the Cockpit Association, had ordered more than 4,000 pilots off the job from Monday to Thursday in the biggest strike ever to hit the airways in Germany, but has now aborted the strike after only one day.
It appealed to strikers to go back to work Tuesday, but a Lufthansa spokeswoman said it would be hard to resume operations so quickly. “It’s obvious we won’t have normal flights straight away,” she said.
Lufthansa had applied to a Frankfurt labour court for an injunction to halt the “excessive” strike. The union agreed in front of the judge to ease the dispute, allowing normal Lufthansa flights to take off Tuesday.
Judge Silke Kohlschitter went straight to an issue at the heart of the dispute: Union attempts to stop a Milan-based subsidiary, Lufthansa Italia, taking over routes from the parent company.
The Milan company pays pilots less. Cockpit had demanded a labour contract prescribing millions of euros in penalties if a single Lufthansa Italia flight breached the accord. In court it dropped the demand.
The judge said both sides should discuss pay and work conditions only.
Thomas von Sturm, the chief union negotiator, said, “This is our way of getting the talks going again”.
The strike halved the number of Lufthansa passenger and freight takeoffs as well as flights by the group’s budget arm, Germanwings.
Lufthansa summoned ex-pilots out of management and non-union pilots to fly its jets, while Cockpit members picketed the company headquarters. But the company said it would have to cancel 3,200 scheduled flights if the strike continued Thursday.
DFS, the German air traffic control agency, said it counted 1,014 Lufthansa flights through German airspace in the first 16 hours of Monday. Two weeks earlier, Lufthansa flew 1,947 flights in such a period.
Other Lufthansa subsidiaries such as Swiss, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, British Midland, Eurowings, Air Dolomiti and Lufthansa Italia were not hampered by the strike.
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