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Lufthansa strike leads to hundreds of flight cancellations

July 27, 2022

The carrier's ground staff went on strike, prompting more than 1,000 flights to be canceled. The walkout comes as the air travel industry faces several crises.

The departure board at Frankfurt airport showing numerous flights are cancelled
The ground staff workers' union stepped up pressure on the German carrierImage: Michael Probst/AP Photo/picture alliance

More than 1,000 flights in Germany were canceled Wednesday, affecting some 134,000 passengers as Lufthansa ground staff went on strike.

At Frankfurt Airport, more than 600 flights were canceled and many posts were unfilled as workers walked from the job.  Munich, another big Lufthansa hub, was hit by the strike, with flights from Berlin, Bremen, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Hannover and Stuttgart also affected.

The Lufthansa strike is the latest disruption to air travel during this busy summer season. The strike had ripple effects for other airlines reliant on Lufthansa ground crew that assist with their flights.

Lufthansa strike

Summer of air travel chaos

Many airlines, including Lufthansa, had already been forced to cancel thousands of flights due to strikes and staff shortages. Hourslong queues have been reported at numerous European airports for check-in and security, prompting passenger complaints as many of them return to air travel for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020.

The labor union Verdi called for the walkout, hoping to see a 9.5% pay increase for about 20,000 workers. The strike is scheduled to last until early Thursday at 6 a.m. (400 GMT) local time.The organization also warned further strikes could take place until their demands are met.

"Lufthansa reduced its staffing during the (coronavirus) crisis, despite being saved by the taxpayer, and now there are personnel shortages in all corners," Verdi representative Marvin Reschinsky told AFP news agency. "We now need financial investments in personnel to make sure air travel is still possible in the future."   

Lufthansa spokesperson Martin Leutke called the chaos "a sad day" for those who were unable to catch flights for holidays due to the strike. The German carrier called the walkout "wholly unnecessary" and said it was not proportionate to the status of negotiations.

The airline is attempting to rebook stranded passengers who missed their flights, but Leutke said the process is "not easy in the peak travel period because all flights are full."

What is the status of the talks with the ground staff?

The union and the airline have held two rounds of talks so far over wages while a third round is scheduled for early August. So far, the airline has only conceded about half of the union's demands regarding wage increases.

However, the union has rejected the airline's offer and said it is not enough to keep apace with Germany's inflation. 

"Should Lufthansa be stubborn next week and not improve its offer, we will consider further consequences for industrial action. Strikes would not be ruled out," Verdi representative Reschinsky said.

ar/dj (AP, dpa, Reuters)