Pilots of Germanwings, the low cost unit of German Lufthansa go on strike causing the cancellation of 116 flights affecting around 15,000 passengers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
(ROUGH CUT ONLY - NO REPORTER NARRATION) Pilots at Lufthansa's low-cost carrier Germanwings have staged a six-hour strike throughout Germany. According to a company spokesperson 116 mostly domestic flights were cancelled between 0600 local time (0400 GMT) and 1200 local time. A row at German airline group Lufthansa over an early retirement scheme for its pilots showed no sign of being resolved any time soon after talks broke down and the strike was announced on Thursday afternoon. According to Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) union that represents about 5,400 Lufthansa pilots its members want the management to maintain a scheme that allows them to retire early at 55 and still keep some of their pay until they reach the age at which state pension payments start. However, Lufthansa ended the talks on Thursday and said it had wanted to use the meeting to agree a timetable for further negotiations, rather than to reach a final deal. About 700 of the Lufthansa group's more than 9,000 pilots work at Germanwings, which has been taking over Lufthansa's European routes outside of Frankfurt and Munich as the company seeks to stem losses on short-haul routes. Pilots at Lufthansa held a three-day nationwide strike in April, grounding almost all the company's flights and wiping 60 million euros ($79 million) from its first-half profit. The dispute is set against the backdrop of a Lufthansa overhaul to boost competitiveness against no-frills rivals and Gulf carriers, seeking to lift group operating profit to 2.3 billion euros by 2015, up by 1.5 billion euros on 2011, though it says negotiations on the early retirement scheme do not form part of its SCORE cost-cutting programme. In response to the failure of Thursday's talks, VC said it was preparing for a lengthy battle but that Lufthansa could avoid further strikes by meeting the pilots' demands.