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Hundreds of flights cancelled across Germany as security staff strike

Hundreds of flights were cancelled at airports across Germany on Tuesday as security staff walked out in a dispute over wages.

Departure board shows several flights cancelled at Hamburg airport on Tuesday.
Departure board shows several flights cancelled at Hamburg airport on Tuesday March 22nd. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Bockwoldt

The one-day strike called by labour union Verdi affected eight airports, including the country’s largest in Frankfurt which asked passengers not to come to the airport.

It marks the latest escalation in a row about higher pay for roughly 25,000 airport security personnel, and comes after warning strikes already caused
travel disruptions last week.

As of mid-afternoon, Berlin-Brandenburg and Düsseldorf airport each had cancelled around 140 flights, while Hamburg said it had scrapped all 88 planned departures for the day.

Frankfurt airport had axed 118 flights, operator Fraport said.

At Düsseldorf Airport, 140 of a total of 260 departures and arrivals were cancelled as of mid-afternoon, and at Cologne-Bonn Airport, 50 of 60 take-offs were axed. The situation was similar in Stuttgart, where, according to a spokeswoman, 40 out of 50 departures were cancelled.

The airports of Bremen and Hanover were also badly affected.

The Verdi union is asking for at least one euro more per hour ($1.10) for staff, and wants to standardise salaries nationwide in what would amount to a
pay hike of up to 40 percent for workers in some regions.

READ ALSO: Eight German airports hit by security staff strike

Security checks are under the supervision of the Federal Police and are largely outsourced to private service providers. Security workers at Bavarian airports are paid according to the collective agreement and are therefore not affected by the current strikes.

The BDLS, the German association of aviation safety companies that is negotiating with Verdi, has accused the union of not being “constructive” in the talks.

The industrial action was criticised by the German Aviation Association (BDL), which said it dealt a further blow to an industry still struggling to recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The strike “affects mainly air travel and many thousands of passengers”, said BDL executive director Matthias von Randow, calling the stoppage “unfair” and “disproportionate”.

The next round of talks is scheduled for Thursday.

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TRAVEL NEWS

German states threaten to block €9 ticket in Bundesrat

Germany's cut-price transport ticket is supposed to go on sale next Monday - but a battle over financing is threatening to torpedo the government's plans.

German states threaten to block €9 ticket in Bundesrat

An feud between the federal and state governments intensified on Monday as state leaders threatened to block the government’s most recent energy package when it is put to a vote in the Bundesrat on Friday. 

The battle relates to the government’s plans for a budget transport ticket that would allow people to travel on local and regional transport around Germany for just €9 per month.

Though the 16 states have agreed to support the ticket, transport ministers are arguing that the low-cost option will blow a hole in their budgets and lead to potential price hikes once autumn rolls around.

They claim that current funding promised by the Federal Transport Ministry doesn’t go far enough.

READ ALSO: 

“If the federal government believes it can be applauded on the backs of the states for a three-month consolation prize and that others should foot the bill, then it has made a huge mistake,” Bavaria’s Transport Minister Christian Bernreiter (CSU) told Bild on Monday.

The government has pledged €2.5 billion to the states to pay for the measure, as well as financial support for income lost during the Covid crisis. 

Transport Minister Volker Wissing. of the Free Democrats (FDP), said states would also receive the revenue of the €9 ticket from customers who take advantage of the offer. 

“For this ‘9 for 90 ticket’, the €2.5 billion is a complete assumption of the costs by the federal government,” said Wissing on Thursday. “In addition, the states are also allowed to keep the €9 from the ticket price, so they are very well funded here.”

Transport Minister Volker Wissing

Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) speaks ahead of a G7 summit in Düsseldorf.

However, federal states want a further €1.5 billion in order to increase staff, deal with extra fuel costs and to plan for the expansion of local transport in Germany.

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s Minister for Economic Affairs, Reinhard Meyer (SPD), told Bild that there would be “no approval (on Friday) as long as the federal government does not provide additional funds.”

Baden-Württemberg’s Transport Minister Winfried Hermann (Greens) also warned that “the entire package of fuel rebate and €9 euro ticket could fail in the Bundesrat” if the government doesn’t agree to the state’s demands on funding.

The Bundesrat is Germany’s upper house of parliament, which is comprised of MPs serving in the state governments. Unlike in the Bundestag, where the traffic-light coalition of the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) has a majority, the CDU is the largest party in the Bundesrat. 

What is the €9 ticket?

The €9 monthly ticket was announced early this year as part of a package of energy relief measures for struggling households.

With the price of fuel rising dramatically amid supply bottlenecks and the war in Ukraine, the traffic-light coalition is hoping to encourage people to switch to public transport over summer instead. 

The ticket will run for three months from the start of June to the end of August, and will allow people to travel nationwide on local and regional transport. Long-distance trains like IC, EC and ICE trains will not be covered by the ticket. 

It should be available to purchase from May 23rd, primarily via ticket offices and the DB app and website. 

Some regional operators, including Berlin-Brandenburg’s VBB, have also pledged to offer the ticket at ticket machines.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to get hold of the €9 travel ticket in Berlin

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