Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Frankfurt airport, Europe’s third- busiest, is facing a third day of disruptions as striking runway controllers consider continuing their protest on Feb. 20.
Fraport AG, which owns the German hub, canceled 298 of today’s planned 1,300 flights, spokeswoman Stephanie Wagener said. Controllers are halting work from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., according to the Gewerkschaft der Flugsicherung (GdF) union.
“A strike on Monday is a real possibility,” GdF negotiator Dirk Vogelsang said, adding that there would be no strike on the weekend. “If there’s no forward movement from the Fraport side then the protests will continue next week.”
Frankfurt, which ranks after London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle in yearly passenger numbers, is the main base for Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Europe’s second-biggest airline.
Lufthansa has canceled 125 of the 290 medium-haul and domestic flights scheduled for today, a figure the company doesn’t expect to change, spokeswoman Claudia Lange said, adding that long-distance flights are not affected.
Travelers are being held hostage by the controllers’ demands, with the action likely to affect the whole of Europe, Klaus-Peter Siegloch, president of the BDL airline and airport trade association, said in a statement yesterday.
Lufthansa passengers can rebook on other flights, apply for a refund or, for travel in Germany, switch to Deutsche Bahn AG trains, spokesman Thomas Jachnow said.
The GdF, which has reached deals with Munich and Berlin airports, says it has accepted a recommendation from mediator Ole von Beust for a two-step increase in monthly wages of between 200 euros and 1,600 euros ($263 to $2,100).
With Fraport planning to outsource the ground-control function, the GdF also wants it to agree that workers will be transferred to a single company on a single contract, Markus Siebers, the union’s wages and rights representative, said.
The GdF aims to carry on striking “in stages” until it reaches an acceptable settlement, Siebers said, adding “This is just the warm-up. It’s going to get more intense.”
Fraport says further compromise is required from the union, which represents about 90 percent of the 200 controllers.
During yesterday’s strike 172 flights were canceled, with 70 percent of flights after 3 p.m. still operating, Fraport said in an e-mailed statement today.
--With assistance from Karin Matussek in Berlin. Editors: Chad Thomas, Angela Cullen
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