TWO of Europe’s largest airlines have been hit by by strikes, grounding hundreds of flights and affecting thousands of passengers.

Walkouts by German public sector workers have forced Lufthansa to cancel 800 of its 1,600 scheduled flights.

The stoppages, which Lufthansa says affects about 90,000 passengers, is in force at Frankfurt, Munich, Cologne and Bremen airports.

The Verdi trade union wants a six per cent pay rise for some 2.3 million public sector employees, including airport ground crews, bus drivers and hospital staff.

Bettina Volkens, Lufthansa’s head of human resources, said: “It is completely unacceptable for the union to impose this conflict on uninvolved passengers. Lufthansa is not a part of this collective bargaining conflict, but unfortunately our customers and our company are being affected by the consequences of this dispute.”

Meanwhile, Air France has cancelled one in four of its flights as pilots, ground staff and others walked out also in support of demands for a six per cent pay rise.

It was the sixth such Air France strike since February, and unions plan further walkouts in the coming weeks alongside French train worker strikes over President Emmanuel Macron’s economic reforms.

Lufthansa said normal services would resume on Wednesday.