Hundreds of flights cancelled as strike starts at Berlin airports

Thousands of Berliners are facing travel misery after ground crews at both the German capital's airports started striking early on Friday morning, leading to hundreds of flight cancellations.

Hundreds of flights cancelled as strike starts at Berlin airports
Photo: DPA

A spokesperson for the local Airport Association confirmed that almost every single flight out of and into both Berlin airports had been affected by the strike.

At Tegel airport in the north of the city, 455 flights were called off, while at Schönefeld airport 204 flights were cancelled.

The strike started at 4am on Friday morning and is set to last until 5am on Saturday, with the airports warning passengers to expect delays after the strikes end too.

Customers with the airlines Lufthansa, Eurowings and Air Berlin flying inside Germany could have their tickets converted into train tickets with Deutsche Bahn (German Rail).

Those flying with budget airlines Transavia were not so lucky. The KLM subsidiary only offered its customers the opportunity to book a flight at a later date or receive the cost of their ticket back.

SEE ALSO: What you need to know about the strikes crippling Berlin airports

Many travellers flying abroad were left scrambling to make contingency plans, with buses leaving from Tegel on Friday morning to Hanover Airport, where several flights had been rescheduled, Tagesspiegel reports.

The strike also comes on the weekend when Berlin hosts the International Tourism Fair, which is expected to draw tens of thousands of visitors from across Europe.

The call to strike was made by union Verdi, which has demanded a pay raise of one euro per hour for ground staff with work contract terms of at least one year. Currently ground crew members earn on average €11 per hour.

The union has been negotiating with a group representing companies that provide ground transport services to airports. The employers' group on Tuesday offered a pay raise of 8 percent over the course of three years, but the union rejected this proposal.

“Unfortunately a strike is inevitable because the employers have still not delivered a suitable offer, and it seems that it's not currently possible to negotiate an agreement,” said Verdi negotiator Enrico Rümker.

The employers' group called the strikes “irresponsible”, saying the action pushes finding a solution further into the distance.

“We have done everything within our power to avoid a strike,” said a spokesperson for the employers' group.

Verdi already held strikes last month at Berlin, Hamburg and Stuttgart airports amid the ongoing labour negotiation dispute. 


Strikes hit Amazon in Germany in the run up to Christmas

Around 2,500 Amazon employees at seven sites across Germany were on strike on Tuesday and unions warned stoppages could continue up to Christmas.

Amazon parcel in factory
A parcel rolls along a conveyor belt at an Amazon packing facility in Gera, Thuringia. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Bodo Schackow

The strikes at so-called “fulfilment” centres, where Amazon prepares packages before delivery, began in two locations on Monday.

The Verdi union is calling on Amazon for an “immediate” salary increase of three percent this year, followed by a further 1.7 percent next year, in line with a collective agreement for the retail sector, to which the e-commerce giant does not adhere.

Amazon could not continue to “refuse wage increases that other companies in the sector pay”, Verdi retail head Orhan Akman said in a statement Monday.

Amazon, which operates 17 centres in Germany, argues it is a logistics company, a sector in which the terms of work are considered to be less burdensome for the employer.

Amazon said it did not expect the strike to have an impact on clients.

However, a Verdi spokesman said the stoppage could cause disruption, particularly in Amazon’s rapid-delivery “Prime” offering.

Strikes were likely to continue “until the end of the year”, the spokesman said, impacting on the busy Christmas shopping period.


Verdi, which first called for strikes at Amazon in May 2013, organised demonstrations outside the fulfilment centres on Tuesday to protest poor working conditions.

Amazon — which has seen its business boom during the coronavirus pandemic as consumers increasingly shopped online — announced in September that it would open eight new centres in Germany, creating 3,000 jobs by 2022.