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Strikes cause hundreds of flights cancellations at Berlin airports

A union representing ground staff has held strikes at Berlin's two airports, demanding a pay raise of an euro per hour. Their employers said the renewed strike was "incomprehensible."

About 210 flights were canceled at Berlin's two main airports on Thursday as ground staff vowed to strike over pay negotiations.

Trade union Verdi announced walkouts at Tegel and Schönefeld airports from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. local time, including some 156 cancellations at Tegel and 54 at Schönefeld airports.

A strike last week caused more than 130 flight cancellations.

The union issued an open letter to passengers saying they regretted the delays and flight cancellations but put the blame on the airlines and ground services providers.

"The cost of ground handling services on an airline ticket is 10 percent on average," the letter reads. "This is 10 euros ($10.64) for a 100 euro ticket. An increase of about 10 percent would cost only 1 euro more per ticket."

The union was calling for a pay rise from about 11 euros an hour to 12 euros within a year. Management offered 10-cent increases each year for the next four years.

The airports issued a warning to passengers on Twitter.

Ground staff jobs include checking in passengers, loading and unloading planes and directing them on the tarmac.

The employers, a group of airport ground services providers, said in a statement the renewed strike was "incomprehensible" as talks were still ongoing. The next round of pay talks is due to take place on Friday.

Carriers affected include Air Berlin, Lufthansa, easyJet and Ryanair among others.

aw/sms (dpa, Reuters, AFP)