June 20, 2013 / 4:54 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-German pilot union scraps strike plans at Air Berlin

* Cockpit says airline has improved its wage offer

* Pilots won’t hold strikes in the meantime (Adds quotes, background)

FRANKFURT, June 20 (Reuters) - Air Berlin pilots scrapped plans to go on strike after the airline improved its wage increase offer, the German labour group Cockpit said on Thursday.

“The Vereinigung Cockpit has cancelled the warning strikes which were planned from the middle of this week until further notice,” a statement said.

It did not provide details on Air Berlin’s latest proposals.

Air Berlin, which is almost 30 percent owned by Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, is cutting about 900 jobs or 10 percent of its workforce this year as it seeks earnings improvements of around 400 million euros ($536.16 million) in 2013-2014 under a cost-cutting programme launched early this year.

Air Berlin said on Monday it gave a “fair offer” to the pilots in May even though it was in the middle of implementing its cost cutting programme, but that the union had rejected it as insufficient.

Cockpit has not given the specifics of their wage demand but said the pilots’ pay should match over a 36-month period the average of those paid to peers at TUI Travel’s unit TUIFly, Thomas Cook group’s charter airline Condor and Lufthansa’s budget carrier Germanwings.

A spokesman for the union said salaries of Germanwings pilots are higher by a “two-digit” percentage figure than those at Air Berlin, which employs about 1,300 pilots.

Last year, Air Berlin posted its first annual operating profit since 2007, after cutting seats and unprofitable routes and selling its frequent-flyer programme to Etihad. ($1 = 0.7461 euros) (Reporting By Marilyn Gerlach; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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