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More strike chaos hits Frankfurt Airport

The Local · 17 Feb 2012, 10:45

Published: 17 Feb 2012 09:41 GMT+01:00
Updated: 17 Feb 2012 10:45 GMT+01:00

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Out of more than 1,000 flights planned, 282 Friday had already been cancelled on Friday as airlines struggled to reassure their customers that they would get them to their destinations. Lufthansa and Air Berlin were offering passengers train vouchers for travel within Germany.

The strike involves 200 workers at Europe's third-busiest airport who are demanding better pay and working conditions. They are not trying to paralyze the airport completely, but rather force managers to the negotiating table.

“We will not back off,” said Markus Sieber, a board member with the GdF union that is organizing the strikes.

On Thursday, the airport's so-called "apron control" staff – who direct aircraft in and out of their parking positions – halted work at 3:00 pm until 10 pm.

It was decided to repeat the strike again from 8:00 am until 10:00 pm on Friday to increase the pressure on Fraport, the company that operates the airport.

The move was heavily criticised not only by Fraport, but also fellow trade union Verdi, which has accused the GdF of going rogue.

Fraport said it was training replacement employees and doing everything possible to keep flights landing and taking off.

"We've sufficient personnel to handle more than 50 percent – at the very least – of flight operations," Fraport board member Peter Schmitz told reporters on Thursday.

Fraport advised passengers to contact airlines directly, since it was primarily up to them to decide which flights would take off or land.

"We will ensure that flight safety is guaranteed," said spokesman Mike Schweitzer.

Travellers seemed resigned to having their travel plans disrupted with some voicing sympathy over the strike action.

Svein Marco Roszkowski, who had just flown in from Chile with his sister Jennifer and two children, said their onward flight to Oslo had been delayed for five hours.

"That's life. I guess people have a reason to strike," Jennifer said.

Jan Bucher of Germany, who was headed for Athens, said: "I have a two-hour delay. But I have an understanding for the strike."

The controllers’ union has argued that apron controllers' pay does not take into account the additional complexity resulting from the opening late last year of a fourth runway in Frankfurt.

Story continues below…

But Fraport denounced the action as "irresponsible" and "incomprehensible."

A board member of the powerful BDI industry federation, Dieter Schweer, said the strike would damage the whole economy.

"It is irresponsible and totally out of proportion," he said. "It is not acceptable that small groups in key functions paralyse critical infrastructures to push through their own individual interests."

National rail operator Deutsche Bahn said it would lay on extra trains and staff to cope with the large number of passengers expected to travel by train.

The Local/APF/DPA/DAPD/mdm

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Your comments about this article

10:20 February 17, 2012 by freechoice
Well there other always alternatives like Dusseldorf, Munich and Berlin International. Worse case scenario, a slow boat to China!
14:05 February 17, 2012 by finanzdoktor
@freechoice: Like I mentioned yesterday, these folks are going to strike themselves out of a job, because from what I hear the Frankfurt Airport is not that great of a place to fly into and there are so many available options (e.g., trains, other airports) more than willing to provide better customer.
14:22 February 17, 2012 by frankiep
My job requires me to fly out of Frankfurt regularly. For such a major air traffic hub, the Frankfurt airport is definitely sub-par in comparison with other major European airports. The poor signage, long distances, parking, lack of jetways (when landing, I have to ride a bus from the tarmac to the gate about 90 percent of the time), and fractured nature of the overall layout make Frankfurt airport an incrediblely annoying airport to travel to and from. It becomes even more striking when comparing it to other major European airports such as Munich, Zurich, Stockholm, etc., which are all infinitely better.
17:26 February 17, 2012 by MikeJarosz
I notice in the accompanying photo that the departure display has entries for "Danzig" and "Posen". I find this interesting, as it defies political correctness, German version. The cities noted are, of course, Gdansk and Poznan.

In English, we have been forced by politics to abandon place names like Bombay, Cambodia, Peking, even Leningrad. Will we give up Cologne next? Köln is in fact shorter, except getting the umlaut on an English keyboard is not easy at all.

How did Germany escape this political reeducation?
19:10 February 17, 2012 by tokeshu
Frankfurt airport is so disorganised at the best of times I'd be surprised if the strikes are noticeable at all
10:27 February 18, 2012 by wood artist
Every time I fly into Frankfurt I just assume I'm actually flying into a construction project that masquerades as an airport. I don't really think there's a "plan" and when they finish something, they just tear up something else and build more.

On my first arrival, I found two lines:

1. Gates A1 through A8 - EU Passports only

2. Gates B1 through B58 - non EU Passports only.

Whoops. I need Gate A6, but I'm not EU. Since the option 1 line was shorter, I went there. When the agent pointed out I was not EU, I said..."Well, I need Gate A6, and had to make a choice which sign to ignore. He smiled, gladly stamped me through, and then said "Yeah, the signs are always a mess."

Three years later, the signs have now changed...and, for what it's worth, both lines fed into the same hallway anyway. Dumb!

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