300.000 passengers face disruption as workers at 7 German airports strike
Public sector workers, ground staff and security workers at seven German airports have joined a warning strike on Friday, February 17, paralysing operations. 300.000 passengers have had their flights cancelled, and the action is causing knock-on disruption at other airports.
German airports paralysed by strike action
The full-day walkout, organised by the ver.di union, began at 9pm on Thursday evening at the major airports in Frankfurt, Munich, Hannover, Stuttgart, Bremen, Hamburg and Dortmund, which together account for around two-thirds of passenger flight traffic in Germany. On Friday morning, it was confirmed these seven airports were virtually at a standstill due to the industrial action, with only a few flights still taking place.
Even airports not affected by the strike, including Berlin BER, were reporting some disruption to regular traffic. According to the airport association ADV, an estimated 300.000 passengers have been affected by more than 2.340 flight cancellations. Lufthansa alone had to cancel 1.300 planned flights.
Passengers are being urged to check the status of their flights and not come to the airport if their connection has been cancelled. Anyone travelling within Germany is recommended to switch to using long-distance rail.
The union has emphasised that the strikes would not impact flights delivering aid to Turkey and Syria, and that leaders travelling to the annual Munich Security Conference would also not face disruption.
ver.di demands 10,5-percent salary increase
The strikes come as ver.di and the civil servants’ association DBB are engaged in three separate collective bargaining disputes on behalf of more than 2,5 million employees. They are demanding that salaries be increased by at least 10,5 percent or a minimum of 500 euros. The union is also calling for better working conditions to boost recruitment and help avoid the chaotic scenes seen at airports last summer.
veri.di deputy chair Christine Behle told SPIEGEL, “From our point of view, measures are now needed to ensure that more employees come to the airport so that the summer of 2023 does not become just as chaotic.”
The president of the aviation lobby BDL, Jost Lammers, on the other hand accused the union of “completely overstepping the mark and carrying out the collective bargaining conflict on the backs of passengers.” The airport association ADV complained that the union was using passengers as a “plaything”. The next round of negotiations is scheduled for February 22 and 23.
The strike caps off a chaotic week for airports in Germany. On Wednesday, a massive IT system failure left thousands of Lufthansa passengers stranded, and then on Thursday the websites of several German airports went down in a suspected cyber attack. According to SPIEGEL, a group of Russian hackers has claimed responsibility for the attack.
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