* Strike started at midnight, runs until Friday
* Pilots' union extended strike call twice
* Strike on Friday will affect short-haul flights
* Lufthansa cancels around 1,800 flights over two days
(Recasts with strike extension)
By Victoria Bryan
BERLIN, Nov 23 Lufthansa pilots in
Germany said they would extend strike action that began on
Wednesday until Friday, ratcheting up pressure on management in
a long-running pay dispute and promising further disruptions for
The walkout has already grounded 1,800 flights at one of
Europe's largest airlines, affecting more than 215,000
The Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) pilots' union had planned a
24-hour walkout on Wednesday but late on Tuesday said it would
be extended to Thursday after two courts rejected attempts by
Lufthansa to halt the industrial action.
On Wednesday evening, the union said the walkouts would
continue on Friday too, but only on short-haul flights.
"Lufthansa management has shown no sign that it is willing
to move and has not provided an offer that could serve as a
basis for negotiations," VC board member Joerg Handwerg said.
Lufthansa, led by CEO Carsten Spohr, insists that despite a
record profit in 2015, it has no choice but to cut costs to
compete with leaner rivals such as Ryanair on short-haul
routes and Emirates on long-haul flights.
Shares in the company have lost 12 percent of their value
this year, but were steady on Wednesday.
Lufthansa cancelled 876 of roughly 3,000 flights scheduled
by its group airlines for Wednesday, and scrapped 912 flights
for Thursday, in what is the 14th strike in the dispute since
Lufthansa's CEO has said he expects the strike to cost
between 7 million euros and 9 million euros ($7.4 million to
$9.6 million) a day.
The strike started at midnight and affects flights departing
from German airports, including 133 long-haul flights.
HOTELS FOR STRANDED
Flights by Lufthansa's other airlines, including
Germanwings, Eurowings, Austrian Airlines, SWISS and Brussels
Airlines, will not be affected, Lufthansa said.
Austrian and SWISS are using larger planes to carry
passengers during the strike, while Lufthansa has reserved
almost 4,000 hotel rooms in Frankfurt and Munich for stranded
The airline has called on the pilots to enter mediation,
which has been rejected by their union because it is seeking a
better offer from management first as a basis for talks.
The union wants an average annual pay increase of 3.7
percent for 5,400 pilots in Germany over a five-year period from
2012. Lufthansa has offered 2.5 percent spread over six years to
In its effort to reduce costs, Lufthansa has agreed deals on
pay and retirement schemes with the main unions representing
ground staff and cabin crew in Germany.
"It is incomprehensible that the union is calling for the
biggest pay increase for the most well-paid group of staff,"
Lufthansa board member Bettina Volkens said in a statement.
A pilot at Lufthansa earns on average 180,000 euros
($190,000) a year before tax, though a captain on the highest
pay level can earn as much as 22,000 euros a month before tax.
($1 = 0.9470 euros)
(Additional reporting by Peter Maushagen; Editing by Alexander
Smith and Susan Fenton)