The strike by union Verdi led to 112 flights being scrapped at Berlin’s Tegel airport, and another 22 being cancelled at Berlin Schönefeld airport. This in turn impacted nearly all early morning connecting flights for Lufthansa, Air Berlin, Germanwings and Eurowings.
Stuttgart airport also reported several cancellations of flights to Berlin, as well as delays, while Hamburg airport was relatively problem-free.
Around 550 Verdi members are to strike between 5am and 11am in Berlin, while the strike in Stuttgart began at 3.30am, and the one in Hamburg at 4am.
Verdi is calling for ground crew – those who work, for example, at check-in desks and in baggage handling – to receive salary bumps of between one to two euros more per hour.
Despite the cancellations and delays, so far “great chaos” has been avoided, according to a Berlin airport spokesperson.
“Many passengers did not come to the airports at all today because of good information released yesterday,” said the spokesperson.
Only one Air Berlin airplane was able to take passengers from Tegel to Düsseldorf in the morning, while budget airlines Ryanair and Easyjet postponed their flight connections until after 11am. Therefore international flights to Lisbon, London, Istanbul and Oslo are still set to take off.
“About a handful of people are currently working as ground crew [at Berlin Tegel], mainly the managers,” said Verdi negotiator Enrico Rümker.
In Stuttgart, airlines have told passengers to plan ahead of time and to check their flight statuses online. They also advise travelers to only bring along hand luggage.
At Hamburg, the first flights took off on time with contract workers brought in to close the gaps of around 100 workers on strike.
Pay negotiations are set to resume on Friday as another round of talks get under way.
“The last relevant labour agreement was in 2013, and now it is 2017,” said Rümker.
But the leader of airport association ADV, Ralph Beisel, called the strikes unreasonable.
“It is unacceptable that Verdi is impairing airports on a high-profile stage to help implement their demands, while completely dismissing the concerns of travellers,” Beisel said.