Lufthansa: Pilots launch 4-day strike expected to disrupt travel around the world

More than 4,000 pilots for Germany’s Lufthansa AG airline launched a four-day strike early Monday that is expected to cause headaches for travelers around the world.

Lufthansa spokeswoman Stefanie Stotz confirmed Monday the strike, organized by the Cockpit pilots union, began at midnight (2300GMT). It was to last until Thursday.

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The airline enacted a special, limited flight plan and said it regretted “the inconveniences caused” to passengers. Lufthansa was forced to cancel hundreds of flights.

Pilots for Lufthansa Cargo and Lufthansa’s its low-budget subsidiary, Germanwings, are also taking part in the strike. They are seeking increased job security and for German labor conditions to apply to Lufthansa pilots hired abroad, in an effort to prevent their jobs from wandering to neighboring countries with cheaper conditions.

Lufthansa had scrambled in advance to rebook passengers on other flights or, within Germany, trains.

Travelers began complaining already Sunday in blogs and tweets about being stuck on hold for several hours trying to get through to Lufthansa hot lines.

Earlier Sunday, Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer failed to get both sides to return to negotiations in an effort to ward off the strike.

Lufthansa normally offers some 1,800 flights daily, including some 160 long-haul flights. It has estimated the strike could cost it about euro25 million ($34 million) per day.

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