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Lufthansa pilots extend strike to long haul services

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, October 21- Lufthansa pilots, on strike since Monday, extended their industrial action to include long haul flights on Tuesday, grounding almost all inbound and outbound services at Germany’s usually busy Frankfurt airport.

In the ninth walkout by its pilots since April, the German airline said it has cancelled 1,511 flights over the two days of the stoppage, with some 166,000 passengers affected.

Nevertheless, the situation in Frankfurt, Germany’s busiest airport, was relatively calm because around 90,000 passengers had been informed in advance via email or text message, a Lufthansa spokesman said.

The strike started on Monday at 1100 GMT, initially on short and medium haul services, but was extended to include long haul flights at 0400 GMT on Tuesday.

The walkout was scheduled to end at 2159 GMT on Tuesday night.

The pilots are striking over plans by management to raise the age at which pilots are able to take early retirement.

At present, pilots are allowed to retire at 55 and receive up to 60 percent of their pay until they reach the statutory retirement age.

Travellers in Germany already faced separate strikes by train drivers at the weekend.

In an interview with the mass-circulation daily Bild, transport minister Alexander Dobrindt complained that the repeated strikes were “killing” the economy.

“Our transport axes are our country’s central nervous system a long lasting blockade will cause a greal deal of damage to the economy,” the minister said.

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