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Lufthansa strike grounds flights from Sweden

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Lufthansa strike grounds flights from Sweden
Passengers at Arlanda airport on a previous occasion. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT
08:01 CET+01:00
Swedish passengers were facing travel chaos on Monday after German airline Lufthansa cancelled dozens of flights to and from Sweden's biggest airports as a huge strike entered its fourth day.

A total of 16 flights to or from Arlanda airport in Stockholm, and eight to or from Landvetter in Gothenburg were grounded after Lufthansa cancelled 929 flights flying in and out of Frankfurt, Munich and Düsseldorf on Monday.

The cancellations include flights operated by the Star Alliance, of which both Lufthansa and Sweden's biggest airline Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) are members.

“Yes, flights between Sweden and Germany will be affected,” Florian Gränzdörffer, press spokesman for Lufthansa Group, told Swedish public radio early in the morning.

The German strike has been affecting air traffic across Europe since it began on Friday amid a long-running battle over savings aimed at fending off competition from low-cost rivals.

“We regret that it has come to this escalation, but negotiations (with management) have reached a point where there is no alternative but to strike,” said a statement by the flight attendants' union UFO when it launched the industrial action last week.

The group's subsidiaries Germanwings, Eurowings, Lufthansa CityLine, SWISS, Austrian Airlines, Air Dolomiti and Brussels Airlines are not being targeted by the strike.

Lufthansa said on Friday that it “regretted” the union's action and apologized to passengers, saying the short notice of the strikes made it difficult to inform them in time and enable them to make alternative travel arrangements.

“We will do everything possible to keep disruption to a minimum,” it said.

It is the first time that cabin staff have staged walkouts in the nearly two-year-long dispute.

UFO is demanding the current system of early retirement provisions remain unchanged, but Lufthansa argues that the system is too expensive as it faces cut-throat competition from low-cost operators such as Ryanair and Easyjet.

Monday's cancellations come less than a week after all flights were grounded in southern and central Sweden after a geomagnetic solar storm knocked out air traffic control radar for a whole hour.

In March, SAS pilots walked out in Scandinavia to protest their wages in a strike that lasted four days.

And similar industrial action, over collective agreement and staffing levels, was only called off at the eleventh hour after dramatic overnight negotiations between the airline and unions in May.

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