A woman talks at a Lufthansa counter at the airport in Duesseldorf, Germany,… (Martin Meissner / Associated…)
BERLIN — Frankfurt and Hamburg airports will be the hardest hit today when 52,000 employees of Lufthansa go on strike, a union official said Sunday.
All other German airports served by Germany's biggest airline will also be affected by the massive walkout, union spokesman Harald Reutter said.
The airline advised U.S. passengers to check their flight status by calling (800) 399-5838 or (800) 645-3880, or by going online to www.lufthansa.com.
The union, which represents workers of Lufthansa ground crews and service personnel, sought a pay increase of 9.8% this year.
The union rejected a Lufthansa offer of 6.7% spread through February 2010, plus a one-time bonus payment, and the dispute has not been resolved.
The union and the airline were not in discussions over the weekend.
The union, known as Ver.di, has calculated that the strike will cost Lufthansa $7.8 million a day, according to Bild newspaper. The strike was scheduled to begin at midnight.
Lufthansa says it will try to minimize the damage to its flight schedule and the inconvenience to passengers.
During past strikes, the airline has honored domestic tickets through the national railroad, Deutsche Bahn.
Over the weekend, German politicians urged both sides to cooperate in reaching a deal and bringing a quick end to the strike.
"Who will suffer directly is the many workers and their families who booked their well-deserved vacations long ago," Bavarian Gov. Guenther Beckstein told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
Lufthansa already had to cancel about 1,000 domestic and European flights last week after the pilots union Cockpit called strikes at Lufthansa subsidiaries Eurowings and CityLine.