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German airline Lufthansa said it would probably have to cancel most of its short-haul flights on Friday afternoon and evening after cabin crew union UFO announced a walkout on flights from Frankfurt and Duesseldorf starting from 1300 GMT (5pm UAE time).

Lufthansa said it would cancel 290 flights on Friday due to cabin staff strike.

Flight attendants are being called to strike at Frankfurt, Lufthansa's biggest hub, and Duesseldorf until 2200 GMT.

Lufthansa said it hoped to operate at least eight long-haul flights from Frankfurt on Friday but that it expected sweeping short-haul cancellations. Full details of the flights affected will be published around 1000 GMT, it said.

More strike action can be expected on Saturday at Frankfurt,  the union said on Friday, but Lufthansa's other main hub in Munich will not be subject to walkouts until after Sunday, given school holidays in that region.

Lufthansa Group airlines Swiss, Austrian Airlines, Germanwings, Eurowings, Brussels Airlines, Air Dolomiti and Cityline will not be affected by the strike.

The walkout comes after Lufthansa and the union failed to reach an agreement in a long-running row over early retirement benefits and pensions.

Lufthansa is trying to negotiate with various staff groups to bring down pension costs as part of a savings drive to allow it to better compete with low-cost rivals and leaner Gulf carriers.

Should Lufthansa management not make concessions, the union will carry out a threat to stage more walkouts until Nov. 13, it said.

Lufthansa shares were up 2.3 percent at 0852 GMT, with analyst Equinet analyst Jochen Rothenbacher saying the negative backdrop was already priced into the share.

He said strike costs could total 20 million euros ($21 million) a day, depending on the number of cancellations, giving a total of around 140 million euros should the union strike on seven days, as threatened.

Strikes by pilots have already cost Lufthansa 130 million euros so far this year.