Lufthansa flights to return to normal on Saturday: CEO

Cancelled flights of German airline Lufthansa are displayed on a board at the "Franz Josef Strauss" airport in Munich, southern Germany, on April 3, 2014. German airline Lufthansa, which is currently battling the biggest strike in its history, expect
Cancelled flights of German airline Lufthansa are displayed on a board at the "Franz Josef Strauss" airport in Munich, southern Germany, on April 3, 2014. German airline Lufthansa, which is currently battling the biggest strike in its history, expects normal services to be up and running on Saturday, its chief executive said. -- PHOTO: AFP

FRANKFURT (AFP) - German airline Lufthansa, which is currently battling the biggest strike in its history, expects normal services to be up and running on Saturday, its chief executive said.

"Our aim is to be back to normal operations on Saturday," CEO Christoph Franz told the mass-circulation daily Bild in an interview published on Thursday.

However, "in isolated cases, there could still be a few anomalies for operational reasons," he added.

Germany's biggest airline has cancelled most of its flights until Friday as a result of a three-day walkout by its pilots, who are demanding better pay and retirement conditions.

Some 3,800 flights have been cancelled in all between Wednesday and Friday, leaving as many as 425,000 passengers stranded.

Mr Franz said he hoped management and the Cockpit pilots' union "can resume talks quickly and come to a compromise that it is acceptable for both sides".

Lufthansa's head of operations, Werner Knorr, had said on Wednesday that there would be no new talks while the strike is ongoing.

Mr Franz reiterated the company's estimate that the industrial action would cost "double-digit millions" (or tens of millions) of euros in profit.

"But we won't be able to give a more concrete figure until after the strike is over," he said.

In a bid to avert chaos, Lufthansa has been keeping passengers up to date about flight changes via text message or email and offering to re-book them onto other airlines.

The situation at Frankfurt airport, the country's largest, has remained calm so far, with few queues evident at check-in terminals. And those flights that were operating were proceeding normally.

The pilots are protesting against Lufthansa's plans to push back the age at which pilots are able to take early retirement from 55 at present to 60 by 2017.

They are also seeking wage increases.