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STRIKES

More than 200 flights cancelled in Germany as Eurowings pilots strike

Flight passengers may face disruption on Thursday after Eurowings pilots staged a full-day walkout in Germany.

Eurowings check-in at Bonn airport
Eurowings customers check in for their flight at Cologne/Bonn airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Thomas Banneyer

A spokesperson for the Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) union, which represents pilots, told DPA that the industrial action began as planned in the early hours of Thursday morning. VC called for a walkout at the Lufthansa subsidiary after negotiations for better working conditions and wages collapsed. 

As a result of the strike, Eurowings expects about half of all its flights to be cancelled on Thursday, affecting up to 30,000 passengers. 

On average, the Lufthansa subsidiary operates around 500 flights a day, carrying 50,000 to 70,000 passengers to destinations across Germany and Europe.

Eurowings plans to operate on Thursday mainly with aircraft from its Austrian subsidiary Eurowings Europe, which is not on strike, but also with aircraft from partner companies.

A spokesperson for the company told DPA on Wednesday that disruption would vary across different airports.

READ ALSO: Pilots at German low-cost airline Eurowings to strike

Airports such as Mallorca, Stockholm or Prague, which are frequently served by Eurowings Europe, are less affected by the strike.

German destinations, on the other hand, are likely to be much more affected. In Düsseldorf alone, the largest Eurowings location, 118 flights are likely to be cancelled, according to the airport. Just 60 are likely to run.

At Cologne/Bonn airport, 61 of the planned 90 flights were cancelled. The strike action is set to last until midnight on Thursday. 

Eurowings is asking customers to check the status of their flight on the Eurowings website or via the Eurowings app. Passengers whose flights are cancelled should be offered other travel options, such as travelling by train or rebooking. 

Why are pilots striking?

VC’s central demand in the dispute is better working hours and conditions for pilots. The union has argued that current agreements on working hours and rest periods haven’t been updated since 2015, and is calling for the introduction of maximum flight duty times. 

“The workload has increased significantly,” said Matthias Baier, a spokesman for VC. “The employer regularly pushes staff to the maximum permitted limit,” 

Meanwhile, Eurowings has slammed the strike as disproportionate and irresponsible.

Head of personnel Kai Duve called the demands “excessive in times when millions of people are afraid of a cold winter and the next heating bill”, adding that the action could harm the future viability of the flight operations as well as endangering jobs at the airline. 

READ ALSO: What are your rights in Germany if a flight is delayed or cancelled?

Eurowings said it was expecting “largely normal flight operations” to resume on Friday.

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DEUTSCHE BAHN

ICE 3neo: Deutsche Bahn’s speediest train makes first trip in Germany

The high-speed train took off for the first time with paying passengers on the Frankfurt-Cologne route.

ICE 3neo: Deutsche Bahn's speediest train makes first trip in Germany

The new express trains can reach a top speed of 320 kilometres per hour – up from the previous 300 km/hour – and will mainly travel on special “speedways”, initially between Dortmund, Cologne, Stuttgart and Munich. 

Connections to Brussels and Amsterdam are set to follow in 2024. The trains will be featured on Deutsche Bahn’s new schedule set to come out on December 11th. 

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in Germany in December 2022

From the outside, the Siemens-built train looks nearly identical to the current ICE 3 model, but the main improvements can be seen from the inside, said DB in a statement. 

Above all, the new trains boast better lighting, mobile radio-transparent windows and space for eight bicycles. In addition, a fast lifting platform has been built to make it easier for wheelchair users or people with disabilities to get on board.     

Deutsche Bahn ordered a total of 73 ICE 3neo trains from manufacturer Siemens, four of which have already been delivered, it said. 

The last train is to be delivered in 2029 at the latest, with the new line-up to cost Deutsche Bahn around €2.5 billion.

Trying to get up to speed

The trains are urgently needed, said DB passenger transport board member Michael Peterson. “Reliability is not good at Deutsche Bahn at the moment,” and will “remain the case for a certain period of time”. 

READ ALSO: ‘A disaster’: How did train travel in Germany get so bad?

The reason for this, he said, is that Deutsche Bahn is working at full speed to modernise its rail system, which has led to several delays, rerouted services and in some cases cancellations.

In addition to the ICE 3neo, a total of almost 140 somewhat slower ICE 4s are set to join the fleet. 

According to Peterson, more than 450 ICE trains are set to join the network by the end of the decade – about 100 more than at present. 

Vocabulary

maximum speed – (die) Höchstgeschwindigkeit

wheelchair user – (der) Rohlstuhlfahrer

equipped – ausgestattet

reliability – (die) Verlässlichkeit

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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