Pilots at Deutsche Lufthansa AG’s discount unit Germanwings and Air France threatened to go on strike as Europe’s two biggest carriers push to rework their domestic and long-range operations and bring down costs.

The Vereinigung Cockpit union announced plans to strike between 6 a.m. and 12 p.m. tomorrow if talks with Germanwings management break down. The announcement comes three days after Lufthansa said it is trying to avert a fresh round of strikes by pilots at the parent airline. The Air France SNPL pilots union is also considering a walkout next month.

“We want a new strategy and we want to participate in the discussion,” Jean-Louis Barber, SNPL union president, said at a press conference in Paris. The Air France walkout, which would take place between Sept. 15 and Sept. 22, is in support of a single contract for Air France pilots, including those at the carrier’s low-cost Transavia and Hop! units.

Air France and Lufthansa have restructured their short-haul operations to move more traffic to low-cost subsidiaries, complicating wage and retirement negotiations with employees. Lufthansa cut its forecasts for this year and next in June as a capacity splurge hurts prices and pilots resisted cost cuts. Air France-KLM Group saw a rise in second-quarter profit as it benefited from cost cuts, and announced another five-year plan to drive down expenses.

New Strategy

“We want a new strategy and we want to participate in the discussion,” Jean-Louis Barber, SNPL union president, said at a press conference in Paris. The Air France walkout, which would take place between Sept. 15 and Sept. 22, is in support of a single contract for Air France pilots, including those at the carrier’s low-cost Transavia and Hop! units.

Lufthansa is transferring non-hub European traffic to Germanwings, a key part of a group-wide push to lift operating profit to 2.65 billion euros ($3.5 billion) by next year. The company said in May that it is planning to change the legal form of operations in eight German cities, which together employ 1,500 people, and move them into its Lufthansa Commercial Holding, the umbrella for about 400 subsidiaries.

At the airline’s main unit, the key point of concern revolves around bridge payments to pilots who traditionally retired as early as age 55, a remnant from past accords that Lufthansa says no longer represents the current status quo. Both sides have resumed negotiations, which Lufthansa said is a positive signal that a walkout may be averted.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kari Lundgren in London at klundgren2@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net.

Photo Credit: A Germanwings Airbus in Cologne, Germany. Dirk Vorderstraße / Flickr