Lufthansa promises return to normal flights on Saturday

Parked planes of German airline Lufthansa at Frankfurt airport.
Parked planes of German airline Lufthansa at Frankfurt airport.AFP

BERLIN (REUTERS) - Germany's Lufthansa has promised a return to normal flight schedules on Saturday though a week-long strike by cabin crew is expected to ground another 941 flights on Friday.

The airline withdrew a request for an injunction against the walkouts at the last minute on Thursday after a German court indicated earlier it was unlikely to reverse a lower court ruling that flight attendants could continue their strike.

The cabin crew union (UFO) signalled on Thursday a willingness to compromise, saying it will make a new proposal on Friday to end the dispute with Lufthansa.

Union chief Nicoley Baublies declined to provide details of the proposal.

Lufthansa said 111,000 passengers would be hit by the cancellations on Friday which will bring the total number of flight disruptions to 4,700 - with more than half a million customers affected by the strike.

The walkouts, which the airline said is costing it at least €10 million (S$15 million) a day, even forced Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr to fly with rival Air Berlin from Berlin to Munich this week.

"All planned long-haul flights will be able to take off on Saturday," the company said on Thursday.

Cabin crew staff started a series of strikes at the airline's core Lufthansa brand last Friday to fight for an improved pension offer for employees.

Lufthansa, which says it needs to cut costs to compete with budget rivals and leaner Gulf carriers, has said it is open to mediation, provided the union calls off the strikes.

The union plans to end the week of strikes by calling on all Lufthansa Group employees to join a demonstration at Frankfurt airport on Friday from midday, Baublies told Reuters.

"If there is no movement from management then maybe we will have to say that there will be more strikes," Baublies said.

Lufthansa has condemned the strikes as counterproductive.

"With this strike, they're only making it harder for us all," Bettina Volkens, head of personnel, said in an interview with daily newspaper Bild.

"The only ones that are happy about the situation are our rivals."

Lufthansa shares ended trading 0.37 per cent lower at €13.42 on Thursday, outperforming the German blue-chip DAX which lost 1.15 per cent.