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Germany: Flights canceled as public sector strikes begin

April 10, 2018

Several hundred flights from Germany's main airports have been canceled, affecting an estimated 90,000 passengers. Public sector workers across the country are demanding a pay rise of six percent.

Passengers at checkin counters in Frankfurt airport
Image: Reuters/K. Pfaffenbach

Airport strikes across Germany

Thousands of passengers at German airports were left stranded after a major labor union called a one-day "warning strike" across the country on Tuesday.

Significant traffic disruptions were reported at Frankfurt, Munich, Cologne, Bremen and Berlin, with at least of half of scheduled flights delayed or canceled.

"The walkout started in the morning and will probably last until the evening," said a spokesman for Fraport, the operator of Frankfurt airport — the largest in Germany.

'Clear signal'

German carrier Lufthansa said in a statement that only 800 of its 1,600 flights would go ahead. Some 90,000 travelers were expected to be affected.

The walkout, led by major German labor union Verdi, aims to push for a pay rise of 6 percent or at least 200 euros ($245) per month for the 2.3 million public sector workers across the country.

"We want to send a clear signal to employers with these massive strikes," said Verdi chief Frank Bsirske.

More than 60,000 workers, including public sector workers outside the commercial air traffic sector, have taken part in the strike.

Read moreWorkers' rights in Germany: Not everyone can go on strike

'If not now, when'

The next round of talks over the pay dispute is set to continue in Potsdam on Sunday.

"Without marked wage increases, there will be no landings during this round of negotiations," Verdi said in a statement on its website.

Referring to the healthy state of the German economy, Verdi chief Bsirske said: "If not now, when can we have significant increases for all workers, also in the public sector?"


Lufthansa personnel chief Bettina Volkens criticized the union's action as "unacceptable," and noted that the airline itself was not involved in the wage row.

"It is nevertheless our customers and us who are most affected by the consequences of the disagreement," she said.

Service at airports is set to return to normal on Wednesday, Lufthansa said. Other public sectors, however, are expected to be affected by the strike until Friday.

Read more: France: Travel chaos as rail workers hold renewed strike against Macron's reforms

France also affected

Pilots and ground staff for Air France also went on strike on Tuesday calling for a 6 percent pay rise. The walkout, the sixth since February, led the airline to cancel a quarter of its scheduled flights.

Unions have planned more strikes along with public sector train workers in the next few weeks to protest French President Emmanuel Macron's reform drive.

amp, nm/rt (dpa, AFP, Reuters, AP)

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