Lufthansa has acted to try to end a damaging dispute with pilots by offering a 4.4% pay rise.

The German carrier was forced to cancel 4,461 flights affecting 525,000 passengers over six days in the latest wave of industrial action by the Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) pilots’ union.

The airline is now offering a two-step 4.4% pay increase plus an unspecified one-off payment.

Wages would be would be increased by 2.4% for 2016 and by a further 2% for 2017 under the latest offer, which is not linked to any other terms or conditions – meeting a key VC demand.

The union has also repeatedly told the media that it would be willing to enter mediation on the basis of an offer of this kind, according to the airline.

Forty services will be cancelled today (Thursday) in the wake of the preceding days of strike action, however the airline hopes to run an almost normal schedule. A total of 890 flights were grounded yesterday affecting 98,000 passengers.

Harry Hohmeister, Lufthansa chief officer hub management, said: “We want to urgently avoid any further damage to our company and finally return to offering our passengers the kind of service they can expect from us.

“And that’s why we submitted a new offer to the VC yesterday evening. We assume that the VC will now end its strike action and that we can return to normal flight operations from tomorrow onwards.”

The airline’s HR chief Bettina Volkens added: “We want to get back to the negotiating table as quickly as possible.

“As desired by the VC, we can then successively negotiate on all the currently-open collective labour agreement issues. And this in turn should lead us back to long-term industrial peace and a sound social partnership.”