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Lufthansa strike: Airline to cancel almost all flights in Germany

German national carrier Lufthansa said it would have to axe more than 1,000 flights because of a strike by ground crew on Wednesday, adding to a summer of travel chaos across Europe.

A Lufthansa airplane at Frankfurt airport.
A Lufthansa airplane at Frankfurt airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

The German airline giant is cancelling nearly all of its scheduled services at its German hubs in Frankfurt and Munich on Wednesday July 27th.

The company said the strike was having a knock-on effect on other days. Flights were also being cancelled on Tuesday at Frankfurt and Munich.

In total, more than 1,000 flights are to be scrapped, with around 134,000 passengers affected.

“Lufthansa will have to call off almost the entire flight program at its hubs in Frankfurt and Munich for Wednesday,” the group said in a statement.

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Trade union Verdi on Monday called on 20,000 ground staff employees – including technicians and logistics managers  – to take part in a one-day ‘warning strike’ on Wednesday, July 27th. It’s being held during negotiations on pay.

The stoppage takes place from 3.45am on Wednesday until 6am on Thursday. Verdi already warned it would cause “major flight cancellations and delays”.

In addition to the hubs in Frankfurt and Munich, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Berlin, Bremen, Hanover, Stuttgart and Cologne are also affected. The Lufthansa Group maintains smaller units in these spots which offer their services to other airlines.

In Bavaria, Friday is the last day of school before the summer holidays so it is expected to be particularly busy.

Passengers without re-bookings should not come to the airports because “few or no” service counters will be open there, the company warned.

Passengers have also complained about last-minute cancellations of intercontinental flights to the USA or Hong Kong. These are usually the last flights to be cancelled by Lufthansa in the event of a strike.

Lufthansa warned transfer passengers not to fly to the German hubs without a connecting flight. They said there was a risk that passengers would not be able to continue their journeys there for several hours or days.

‘Troubled summer’

The walkout at one of Europe’s largest airlines adds to a troubled summer season at airports across the continent as eased coronavirus restrictions have boosted tourism demand, but chronic staff shortages have left passengers grappling with flight disruptions, long queues and lost luggage.

Lufthansa has already scrapped around 6,000 flights this summer to cope with the chaos.

In the dispute, Verdi union is seeking a 9.5-percent pay rise or at least €350 per month for ground staff. It also wants a minimum hourly wage of €13.

The union says the management’s offer so far “does not come close to compensating for inflation” which stood at 7.6 percent in Germany last month.

Lufthansa has countered that it has offered “very substantial pay increases” amounting to more than 10 percent for workers in the lowest wage categories, and a six-percent increase for higher-paid staff.

Michael Niggemann, Chief Human Resources Officer and Labor Director of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, said: “The early escalation of a previously constructive collective bargaining round is causing enormous damage.

“It affects our passengers in particular, who are impacted during the peak travel season. And it is putting an additional heavy strain on our employees in an already difficult phase for air traffic.”

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