Lufthansa cancels almost 900 flights as pilots' strike continues
Planes stand on the tarmac during a pilots strike of German airline Lufthansa at Frankfurt airport, Germany, November 23, 2016. Reuters

A German court on Wednesday ruled in favor of the union strike scheduled to be staged by Lufthansa's cabin crew, compelling the country's largest airline to cancel 1,300 flights across multiple destinations.

The 48-hour strike starting Thursday will affect all flights departing from and arriving into Germany, leaving thousands of passengers stranded across the globe. Given this situation Lufthansa late Wednesday had to cancel 700 flights on Thursday and another 600 on Friday.

The airline will now operate will operate only 2,300 of 3,000 planned flights on Thursday, while on Friday it will fly 2,400 of 3,000 scheduled flights.

The airline company had on Tuesday made an urgent application in a German court in a bid to avoid the strike. However, the court ruled in favor of the union and the cabin crew saying that such a strike was "not unlawful".

On Tuesday, in a last ditch effort, the airline company had also invited representatives from UFO, Verdi and CU, the three unions representing its cabin crew, for talks on the ongoing wage dispute. "This will affect all Lufthansa flights scheduled to leave from airports in Germany," the deputy chairman of the UFO cabin crew union, Daniel Flohr, said in a statement.

Embroiled in pay dispute

The strike had been looming large on Lufthansa since the last month, when UFO staged a similar 24-hour warning strike on October 20 involving four smaller Lufthansa subsidiaries that saw quite a large number of flights getting cancelled.

The airline has been long embroiled in a pay dispute with its cabin crew. UFO, the primary union initiating this strike, has been long demanding a hike of 1.8% in salaries. However, the company has failed to make any progress on their demands. Instead, Lufthansa has been calling the strike completely illegal and believes that UFO is not entitled to represent its staff.

What do passengers do?

Anticipating the worst, the airline on Wednesday came up with an alternative plan by offering passengers due to travel on Thursday and Friday a chance to rebook their travel for free for through November 15, 2019, assuming the same booking class is available.

Moreover, Lufthansa also announced on Wednesday that passengers can use the Deutsche Bahn in exchange for flights on domestic routes, irrespective of whether or not their flight has been canceled.