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Lufthansa pilots vote for strike in pay row

The union said more than 90 percent of its members voted in favour of a strike.

Lufthansa pilots have voted in favour of going on strike in a dispute over pay and working conditions. Picture: AFP.

FRANKFURT - Pilots at German flagship carrier Lufthansa voted in favour of going on strike in a dispute over pay and working conditions, union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) said on Friday.

The union, which represents more than 5,000 Lufthansa pilots, said over 90 percent of its members voted in favour of a strike.

"None of us really want to strike and we've been negotiating very patiently, but our patience has run out," the pilot's chief negotiator Thomas von Sturm told journalists.

The union said it would announce any strike action 48 hours in advance to give passengers time to change their travel plans and said it had no intention, for now, to call for a strike over the Easter holidays.

Lufthansa's passengers were among the worst affected by a strike by security staff at Frankfurt airport, Lufthansa's home base, last month.

Lufthansa is in the middle of a restructuring programme, dubbed SCORE, which aims to improve operating profit by €1.5 billion compared with 2011.

It has already agreed pay deals with ground staff and cabin crew, leaving the pilots as the final major frontline staff group with which it has to reach agreement.

Analysts at Barclays estimate Lufthansa's staff costs are 15 percent lower than Air France, but still around 10-15 percent higher than British Airways.

The current dispute concerns both pay increases and so- called 'transition contracts' awarded to pilots retiring before the legal pension age officially kicks in.

Lufthansa was not immediately available to comment.

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