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Lufthansa Nixes Flights as Pilots Strike

German airline Lufthansa asked a labor court to halt a strike by more than 4,000 of its pilots that canceled 800 flights Monday and upended the travel plans of 10,000 passengers worldwide.

Deutsche Lufthansa AG spokeswoman Claudia Lange told The Associated Press Monday that the injunction was filed in Frankfurt.

"This strike is disproportionate," she said. "We hope for a decision within the next 24 hours."

Lange said the company filed the legal action in a bid to avoid more harm to its passengers, customers and shareholders.

The move came on the first day of a planned four-day walkout by pilots in the Cockpit union over job security. The action could be extended, a union official said.

"The four days apparently are not enough to get Lufthansa going to find a solution with us at the negotiating table," Cockpit spokesman Alexander Gerhard-Madjidi told Bayerischer Rundfunk Radio Monday.

"Of course, we won't end this escalation after those four days, that means we are going to prepare further strike measures and they are going to be expanded in length and duration," he said.

Europe's biggest airline by sales said many long-haul flights to the U.S., including New York and Denver, were canceled because of the strike organized by the Cockpit pilots' union. However, it said it was still running many domestic flights and short-haul routes across Europe.

Other flights to the U.S., including Newark, New Jersey, Dallas and Chicago were scheduled Monday, as were flights to destinations in Africa, South America and Asia.

Lufthansa typically has 1,800 flights a day.

"For today, we foresee about 1,000 flights planned, but there may be more flights that could be canceled during the day," the airline warned. It offers some 160 long-haul flights to destinations worldwide.

The airline, Germany's largest, estimated the strike could cost it some euro25 million ($34 million) per day.

Pilots for Lufthansa Cargo and the low-budget subsidiary, Germanwings, are also taking part in the strike.

Lufthansa said it was trying to rebook travelers on partner airlines or trains. Travelers unable to be rescheduled are being reimbursed for their tickets, it said.

"They're giving us the service and support to get us where we need to go," said Shane Parkinson, who was flying from Germany to Sicily, whose original flight from Frankfurt was scrapped. "They wouldn't upgrade us to business class but it could have been worse."

Resat Saritas tried to get home to Dubai but found his flight was canceled. Despite his unhappiness over his flight, he said the strike was justified.

"The pilots deserve more money. The mentality of the company is not good. Please don't do this again," he said. "It's not nice for the pilots and it's not nice for the passengers."

Germanwings said it was operating several flights over the four-day period to destinations including Britain, Greece, Spain, Bulgaria, Italy and Croatia, among others, but warned of cancellations, too.

Lufthansa, based in Cologne, owns or holds significant stakes in airlines including Swiss International Airlines, Austrian Airlines, JetBlue of the U.S. and Britain's BMI. Those are not affected.

The pilots are seeking increased work security and want German labor conditions to apply to Lufthansa pilots hired abroad, in an effort to prevent their jobs from migrating to neighboring countries with cheaper conditions.

Lufthansa denied it was planning to relocate the jobs.

Lange said Lufthansa was still open to further talks, but only if they are without preconditions.

"The union has to drop its unacceptable, and in our view, illegal demands," she said. "We are ready to negotiate about job security and to assure secure jobs, which are determined by collective bargaining. There were no jobs shifted to abroad and this is also not planned and won't be the case in the future."

The airline reached out to travelers online, too, posting a strike schedule on its Web site and offering updates on whether flights were canceled or not on its Twitter feed.

"In Cairo, people had who Lufthansa connecting flights had problems. There were long lines at the Lufthansa counters," said Achmed Abdullah, who flew to Frankfurt from Egypt before changing airlines to fly to Slovenia for a business meeting.

"I fly back Friday," he said. "I hope this will be over."

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