Air travellers passing through Germany were in for a day of flight delays and cancellations due to strikes organized by airport workers in the public sector. The strikes were organised in order to demand a hike in wages.
Lufthansa cancels 900 flights
Lufthansa, which happens to be the largest carrier in Germany, was forced to cancel around 900 flights across multiple airports, including Munich and Frankfurt. The cancellations accounted for almost 60% of its normal per day traffic. The air carrier also saw 87,000 of its passengers being grounded.
Lufthansa issued a statement saying that it would be handling only a few flights on its European and domestic routes. The airline added that, due to the strikes, only 90 flights will be available to and from Munich on the 26th of April. Lufthansa had to face many wage-related strikes of its own recently, with cabin staff and pilots staging multiple walkouts concerning retirement and pay related issues. The strikes, which involved workers from security, ground services, check-in and firefighting, affected operations severely at the German airports. Fraport, an airport operator, had warned that it would take over 48 hours to return services to normal.
Strike at Munich
At Munich airport, the staff launched an all-day strike on Wednesday, 27th April and in Frankfurt, the strike was held on Tuesday, 26th April. The Frankfurt strikes were called off at 1300GMT. Munich airport saw around 700 scheduled landings and take-offs being cancelled as a result of these strikes.
Union Verdi is said to be responsible for the strikes. It is a union that represents public sector workers from diverse arenas across Germany; an estimated 2.41 million people to be precise. The strikes were just a part of a larger event. Apart from the airport strikes, the union is also believed to have organized similar strikes across other sectors including schools, street cleaning services, and swimming pools.
The strikes have been tagged as “warnings” from the Union and have attracted criticism from various aviation agencies, especially considering the fact that wage related discussions were to be tabled on Thursday, 28th April.
Frank Bsirske, Chief of Union Verdi, defended the strikes stating that they were executed in order to hasten the wage negotiations. He said that he hoped the strikes would serve as a “signal” and that the concerned parties would reach an agreement by the end of the week, during the third round of talks.The Union is demanding a 6 percent rise in members’ salaries. In mid-April, the union had rejected an offer of a three percent rise.
The strikes had affected a total of six airports across the country. Intercontinental flights were said to be the most affected, followed by domestic and European flights. 740 flights were cancelled at Munich and over 390 flights were cancelled at Frankfurt. Cologne/Bonn airport saw around 90 flights being cancelled, while Dusseldorf saw around 54 flights being cancelled.
Air Berlin released a statement saying that around 87 of its domestic flights were affected.