Lufthansa (LHA.DE) announced it will slash nearly all of its flights from Frankfurt and Munich on Wednesday due to a strike by workers over pay during the peak summer season.
The cuts at Germany’s two busiest hubs adds to the travel chaos that has overwhelmed Europe’s aviation industry in recent months.
The German flag carrier's one-day strike will see 678 flights in Frankfurt and 345 in Munich cancelled, expected to affect 92,000 and 42,000 passengers respectively. It grounded 15 flights on Tuesday.
Affected passengers will be contacted on Tuesday to be rebooked, the airline said, adding it has limited capacity to rebook passengers affected by cancellations, and warned some of the mayhem could linger into the weekend, when travel is due to pick up.
Up to 20,000 ground staff, including logistics workers and technicians, are set to strike.
On Monday, German trade union Verdi said that during the second round of wage negotiations, Lufthansa presented an offer that was deemed insufficient. The union is demanding a 9.5% pay increase.
"It is particularly important for Lufthansa to put a stronger focus on the lower remuneration groups," Lufthansa said in a statement.
"For example, for employees with a basic monthly salary of 3,000 euros before taxes, the present offer means an increase in basic salary between 9 and just under 11% within the next 12 months."
The next round of negotiations is due to take place on 3 and 4 August.
Shares fell 2.2% in afternoon trade in Germany.
The latest cancellations come after the airline slashed around 3,100 flights in June.
Lufthansa labour director Michael Niggemann, said: "The early escalation of a previously constructive collective bargaining round is causing enormous damage."
"After only two days of negotiations, Verdi has announced a strike that can hardly be called a warning strike due to its breadth across all locations and its duration.
"This is all the more incomprehensible given that the employer side has offered high and socially balanced pay increases – despite the continuing tense economic situation for Lufthansa following the COVID crisis, high debt burdens and uncertain prospects for the global economy."
The airline industry has been battling a wave of staff shortages, strikes, flight delays and cancellations as airlines and airports struggle to cope with a rebound in travel following the pandemic.
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