German airports strike slashes over 600 flights
Almost 640 flights were cancelled in Germany Thursday as security staff went on strike at three airports, meaning disruption for over 100,000 passengers.
The number of flights blocked was more than half the 1,050 planned for Düsseldorf, Cologne-Bonn and Stuttgart.
Düsseldorf -- the country's third-largest airport -- said in a statement that 370 of Thursday's 580 planned departures had to be cancelled.
The walkout, slated to last from 3:00 am to midnight, is expected to affect around 110,000 travellers, according to DPA.
At Cologne-Bonn, where 131 of almost 200 flights were cancelled. Union Verdi told DPA the security strike was also slowing freight handling.
In Stuttgart, 142 of the 270 take-offs and landings were cancelled, in Düsseldorf as many as 350 out of 570. In Berlin, slightly over 90 at both airports were cancelled.
Representing 23,000 airport security staff across Germany, Verdi is demanding a pay increase to €20 per hour from the present rate of €17, or almost 18 percent.
Employers' association BDLS meanwhile is offering increases of between two and eight percent.
Flight cancellations around Germany
Berlin Airports Tegel and Schönefeld, among others, expected cancellations and delays. "Find out about your airline's flight status before you arrive," tweeted the Berlin Airport Service.
#Passagierhinweis: Aufgrund von Warnstreiks an den Flughäfen Düsseldorf, Köln/Bonn und Stuttgart kann es am Donnerstag, 10. Januar 2019, zu Flugausfällen und Verspätungen kommen. Informiere dich vor deiner Anreise über den Flugstatus bei deiner Airline. pic.twitter.com/48CC1nLchs— Berlin Airport Service (@berlinairport) January 9, 2019
According to the website of Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH, more than 90 flights were affected on Thursday morning. Tegel Airport recorded the highest number of cancellations. Around 90 outward and return flights had to be cancelled there. There were four affected at Schönefeld Airport.
Hundreds of strikers demonstrated loudly with whistles and posters at Düsseldorf Airport in the early hours of the morning on Thursday. One of the posters read: "More pay? With certainty!”
Scoreboards showed numerous cancelled flights. Stuttgart Airport warned its passengers about long waiting times, adding that passengers should plan more time before departure and take as little hand luggage as possible with them.
At Cologne/Bonn, the willingness to strike is enormously high, said a Verdi spokesman. Shortly after the strike began at midnight, there was chaos at the control gates through which the trucks bring the cargo to the airport grounds. There were backlogs up to the highway.
Early in the morning, the passenger control at Cologne/Bonn Airport had temporarily stood still, the Verdi spokesman said. According to the spokesman, numerous strikers in yellow vests and flags drew attention to their concerns.
"Since the airlines had already cancelled flights in advance and informed their passengers, most of the affected passengers did not even arrive. The terminals are clearly emptier than usual," the airport press office explained this morning.
A follow-up to warning strikes
According to a Verdi spokesman, the strike in Stuttgart on Thursday morning was also "in full swing". The queues are longer than usual.
"Due to the many cancellations, however, fewer passengers appeared," he said.
Verdi had already declared warning strikes at Berlin Airports at the beginning of the week, but these lasted only a few hours - about eight percent of the flights on this day were cancelled. On Thursday, the proportion is significantly higher.
This increases Verdi's pressure in the wage dispute. Criticism of the union came from the tourism industry.
"This is an unbelievable imposition for holidaymakers and business travellers - they are being taken hostage again", said Norbert Fiebig, President of the German Travel Association, told the Rheinische Post on Thursday.