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Strike nearly grounds Lufthansa

Striking Lufthansa employees gathered at Tegel Airport under a protest sign in Berlin Monday.

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Striking Lufthansa employees gathered at Tegel Airport under a protest sign in Berlin Monday.

PARIS — A widespread strike all but grounded the German flag carrier Lufthansa on Monday, affecting about 150,000 passengers around the world amid a battle over wages as the airline pushes ahead with a $2 billion restructuring program.

The airline, Europe’s largest by passengers carried, said it had to cancel all but 32 of its 1,700 flights worldwide after unions representing more than 33,000 ground crew and other staff, half its German workforce, called the action.

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The full-day ‘‘warning strike’’ at Germany’s biggest airports was the second in a month by members of the country’s powerful services union, ver.di. The union is seeking a 5.2 percent wage ­increase, job guarantees, and
a shorter, 12-month contract period.

The contract talks come as Lufthansa, like other large network carriers in Europe, struggles to keep a lid on operating costs.

In the European market, Lufthansa and its peers are losing market share to leaner and nimbler rivals like ­Ryanair, easyJet, and Air ­Berlin. On long-distance routes, they are being squeezed by rapidly ­expanding Middle Eastern carriers like Emirates and ­Etihad.

Lufthansa said it had ­managed to warn roughly 100,000 — or two-thirds — of its affected passengers over the weekend and was making arrangements for them.

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