Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LHA) and Air Berlin Plc (AB1), Germany’s two biggest airlines, scrapped more than 460 flights worldwide today because of a strike by baggage handlers and security staff at the country’s main airports.
More than 80 percent of the 435 flights canceled by Lufthansa, Europe’s second-largest carrier, affected takeoffs and landings at the company’s primary hub in Frankfurt, according to information on the airline’s website. Air Berlin dropped 29 flights nationwide because of the strikes, the airline said today on its website. Fraport AG (FRA), which operates Frankfurt airport, said one-third of flights had been scrapped.
“We are affected by some delays and have 445 cancellations at Frankfurt airport today,” Mike Peter Schweitzer, a spokesman for Fraport, said by telephone. “But we have basic handling possibilities for flights despite the strikes and still have 1,300 planned flight movements today.”
Airports in Berlin, Munich, Cologne, Dortmund, Dusseldorf and Stuttgart are also affected by the walkouts led by the Ver.di labor union in a public-sector pay dispute. Strikes have also affected kindergartens, trash-collection, power stations, hospitals and public offices across Germany this month as Ver.di seeks wage increases for about 2 million federal, state and municipal employees.
The walkouts are separate from strikes that ground controllers held at Frankfurt airport last month that Fraport (FRA) estimated reduced passenger numbers by 170,000 travelers. Frankfurt airport, Europe’s third-busiest after London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle, handles 140,000 to 150,000 passengers daily, Schweitzer said today.
Lufthansa is canceling flights from cities including Copenhagen, Istanbul, London, Madrid, Rome, Stockholm and Tel Aviv to German destinations, as well as outbound flights to cities such as Abu Dhabi, Detroit, Kuwait, Mumbai, New Delhi and Orlando.
The strikes are scheduled from 5 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in Frankfurt, and until noon at most other airports, Air Berlin said.
Ver.di is demanding a 6.5 percent pay raise for government employees. The union said on March 13 that it will call more strikes after pay talks in Potsdam broke up without result, and it called an offer by employers for a 3.3 percent pay increase “a provocation.” Negotiations will resume on March 28 and March 29.
Lufthansa, the dominant carrier in Frankfurt, Europe’s third-busiest airport, said late last month that the ground- controllers’ walkouts in February led to costs “significantly” exceeding 10 million euros ($13.3 million).
Frankfurt airport’s ground controllers, who handle taxiing and parking of planes at terminal gates, reached a pay agreement with Fraport this month, Fraport said March 21. The Gewerkschaft der Flugsicherung union approved a proposal for wages that will at least match pay levels at Munich airport, Fraport said.
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