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News Summary: Lufthansa strike nixes 1,700 flights

The Associated Press

WALKOUT: Lufthansa, Germany's biggest airline, cancelled almost all of its 1,700 scheduled flights after airline technicians and service personnel walked off the job on a one-day strike.

WAGE ISSUE: The airline last week rejected the union's demand for wage increases of 5.2 percent over the next year, countering with a complex offer that foresees smaller raises over a 29-month period. The union, ver.di, which is negotiating for some 33,000 workers, argued that the offer would mean wages falling in real terms.

COSTS, COMPETITION: Lufthansa is trying to cut costs to cope with high fuel prices as well as competition from European discount carriers and the big Gulf airlines such as Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways. Last year, the airline and a union representing cabin crews called in an arbitrator to settle a pay dispute after a series of short-term stoppages.