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.
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.