Swiss Pilots Strike, 120 Flights Cancelled

September 26, 2006

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A pilots' union at Swiss International Air Lines held a one-day strike on Tuesday, forcing the cancellation of 120 European flights.

Swiss, controlled by German airline Lufthansa, told a news conference that some 4,000 to 5,000 passengers across Europe would be affected.

Around 120 flights had been cancelled by Tuesday afternoon, but this number could rise, the airline said.

The Swiss Pilots Association - one of two pilots' unions at Swiss, which was taken over by Lufthansa last year - rejected calls from the airline to end the strike at 1600 GMT.

This means that the strike could affect Wednesday's services as planes will be out of position.

Thomas Issler, head of the pilots' union, said that normal work would resume on Wednesday. The union said that all pilots were taking part in the strike.

Swiss said in a statement the strike had begun at 0330 GMT after the union voted to go on strike on Monday, saying the airline failed to meet its demands higher salaries.

The pilots want their salaries brought closer into line with colleagues flying long-haul flights.

On Friday, the union said it gave Swiss an ultimatum to lift pay and benefits for its 260 members by Monday evening.

A larger union, Aeropers, representing around 750 pilots on long-haul flights, did not take part in the strike.

The airline said the Swiss Pilots Association had "abandoned the option of dialogue unexpectedly and without putting detailed demands on the table."

(Reuters)