Germany's air traffic controllers' union plans to stage a walkout later this week that could severely disrupt flights across Europe.

The GdF union said Monday afternoon its board rejected the management's latest offer. They added that they will comply with a request from the federal government and meet once again for talks with an arbiter.

Only if talks are set up on short notice and an agreement is reached can industrial action be avoided, the air traffic controllers' union GdF announced on Monday.

Over the weekend, the union said that a strike could take place as early as Wednesday. According to law, a strike must be announced with a 24 hour notice. The unions did not immediately announce whether the walkout would affect a few regions or would be a full-scale strike across Germany.

A full scale strike could affect thousands of flights and would be the first such industrial action in German history, according to Deutsche Welle.

Compared to other countries, strikes are relatively rare in Germany.

German travel association DRV put the number of people using German airports on a typical day in October at around 610,000.

The DFS air traffic control agency coordinates about 10,000 flights a day, making the skies over Germany the busiest in Europe.

The union had already threatened to strike twice in August, the first time fended off by the courts and the second time after the DFS agreed to a mediation process.

DFS, which has roughly 6,000 employees, sent the dispute over pay and working conditions to arbitration in August, however the union rejected the outcome in September. Negotiations over the arbitrations' results broke down late Friday.

The DFS union said pay rises were the central issue of dispute. Both sides agreed on the arbiter's compromise of a salary raise of 5.2 percent, but the union has pushed for more people to be promoted at a faster rate.

After we explained that these demands were not open for negotiation, the talks were essentially ended, the DFS said in a statement.

We cannot understand that the union rejected our improved offer that we submitted today, DFS spokeswoman Kristina Kelek told The Associated Press on Monday.

She accused the union of holding passengers hostage by announcing a strike and then providing no further details.

This is confusing for the public, for all passengers who planned to travel this week, she added.

There were no official plans or timetables for a strike on Monday afternoon.