Annual Paris Beach Party Kicks Off

PARIS ~ A three-kilometer stretch of the banks of the river Seine turned into a palm-lined sandy beach on Monday for a few weeks as the seventh annual Paris Plage kicked off.

The usually busy roads lining the river in central Paris have been closed to traffic until August 21 and redecorated with sand, grassy areas, deck chairs, hammocks and palm trees to give a French Riviera feel.

The initiative, begun in 2002 and since copied by Berlin, Rome and other European cities, has proved hugely popular with locals and visitors alike, with up to four million people soaking up the sun every year or attending the many free concerts, sports and other activities.

Strikes Ground 1,000 Lufthansa Flights

BERLIN ~ German flag carrier Lufthansa was forced on Tuesday to cancel nearly 1,000 flights due to warning strikes by pilots working for two of its units, an airline spokeswoman said.

She said 464 of 725 scheduled flights on Tuesday on Lufthansa’s Eurowings and Cityline carriers would remain grounded and another 525 flights on Wednesday, adding that both domestic and European destinations were affected.

Pilots’ union Cockpit had called the warning strikes due to a breakdown in salary talks with management. Cockpit said all of Germany’s major airports served by Eurowings and Cityline were affected, including Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf and Berlin’s Tegel airport.

Billionaires Battle for German Travel Giant

FRANKFURT ~ Russian billionaire Alexei Mordashov has pulled even with Norwegian John Fredriksen at a 15-percent stake in TUI as they bicker over a roadmap for the leading European travel group.

Mordashov boosted his stake in TUI to 15.03 percent, a statement by his Cyprus-based S-Group said this week.

The statement added that the increase from 10 percent “strengthens our position as a long-term strategic investor and our commitment to developing the tourism business of TUI.”

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