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Lufthansa flights grounded in new pilots’ strike

File picture shows planes flown by German airliner Lufthansa parked at Duesseldorf airport on March 13, 2014/AFP

File picture shows planes flown by German airliner Lufthansa parked at Duesseldorf airport on March 13, 2014/AFP

FRANKFURT, September 5- Lufthansa, Germany’s biggest airline, said it will cancel 200 flights Friday, affecting 25,000 passengers, as a consequence of a pilots’ strike to be held later in the day.

The pilots’ union Vereinigung Cockpit has called for a six hour walk out between 5:00 pm and 11:00 pm (1500-2100 GMT) over plans to change the airline’s early retirement policy.

The industrial action is focussing on the country’s biggest airport in Frankfurt and will ground most domestic and regional flights.

Lufthansa said individual flights would already be cancelled as early as 1:30 pm (1130 GMT) and most flights from 4:00 pm (1400 GMT).

The airline promised to try and limit the impact of the strike for customers.

Lufthansa pilots can currently take paid early retirement from the age of 55. They are fighting a plan by the airline to raise the minimum age and to involve pilots in the financing of their pensions.

Last Friday more than 100 flights were cancelled at several of Germany’s main airports as pilots of Lufthansa’s low cost airline Germanwings also walked out.

And on Monday, a union for German train drivers called for a three hour walkout to turn up the pressure on management of the national rail operator Deutsche Bahn in gridlocked wage talks.

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