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Home Travel Flight chaos in Germany as aiport workers go on strike – DW – 02/01/2024

Flight chaos in Germany as aiport workers go on strike – DW – 02/01/2024

by Staff

Over 1,000 flights are expected to be canceled or delayed, impacting over 200,000 passengers, as airport security staff kicked off a one-day strike across 11 major airports in Germany on Thursday, according to Germany’s airport association ADV.

The strike began on Wednesday night at the Cologne/Bonn airport in western Germany when the passenger control staff did not turn up for the night shift.

Özay Tarim, a spokesperson for the trade union Verdi, said that the strike participation rate at that airport was 100%.

“It was a successful start to the strike,” he said, adding that he expected more than 80% of flights — including arrivals and departures — to be canceled during the day.

Airport security staff are on strike in the hopes of securing an hourly wage increaseImage: Jörg Halisch/dpa/picture alliance

Which German airports are impacted by the strike?

Security staff stopped work at Frankfurt, Hamburg, Bremen, Berlin, Leipzig, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Hanover, Stuttgart, Erfurt and Dresden after Verdi called for industrial action.

All take-offs were canceled at airports in Berlin, Hamburg, Hanover and Stuttgart. Arrivals will also likely experience major delays.

At the same time, Düsseldorf airport had only canceled a third of its flights. Tarim said that the security company there had offered workers a “strike-breaking bonus” of €200 ($216) to come to work.

Airports in the southern state of Bavaria — such as Munich and Nuremberg — are not impacted by the industrial action as their security workers are considered public sector workers and have different contracts.

What is the situation at Frankfurt Airport?

Germany’s largest airport, in Frankfurt, is also expected to see massive disruptions on Thursday, with all passenger boarding canceled in the morning.

“The strike will cause major disruptions and flight cancellations throughout the day,” the airport operator Fraport said on its website. “In particular, security checkpoints outside the transit area will remain closed.”

It suggested that passengers departing from Frankfurt avoid the airport on Thursday and contact their airline operators.

A handful of transit flights did take off on Thursday morning. However, transit passengers were also warned they could face “strong disruptions and delays” due to the strike. 

Lufthansa, Germany’s flag carrier airline, has said that passengers can rebook their flights until February 8. It also offered domestic travelers train tickets for Thursday at no extra cost.

Lufthansa desks were only offering rebookings at Frankfurt airport on Thursday morningImage: picture alliance/dpa

DW’s Kristie Pladson, reporting from Frankfurt airport, said that passengers appeared “quite frustrated and unhappy” with people heard yelling profanities in the building.

ADV boss Ralph Beisel protested that Thursday’s strike would make airport operators suffer despite them not being a party to the wage dispute.

What do the striking airport workers want?

Verdi called the strike after several rounds of collective bargaining talks with the Association of Aviation Security Companies (BDLS) failed to reach an agreement.

The main demand is an hourly wage increase of €2.80. A BDLS spokesperson said they had made an offer of a 4% pay rise for this year followed by a 3% pay rise next year, but said the union’s demand was unaffordable.

“Verdi and these workers are calling for what they see as wages that better reflect how important they are to the functioning of the airport and to air travel,” DW’s Pladson said.

“We’re also seeing in Germany right now a ripple effect in terms of labor, with people calling for improved wages, improved working conditions, and there does seem to be something of a trend occurring,” she added.

Thursday’s strike comes after the German train drivers’ union GDL called for the country’s longest-ever rail strike last week following a dispute with the national rail operator Deutsch Bahn.

Verdi has also called on local public transport workers across most of Germany to strike on Friday.

6-day train strike paralyzes rail transport in Germany

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ab/rt (dpa, Reuters)

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