German airports strike slashes 600 flights

A destination board displays cancelled flights at the airport in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, on April 10, 2018 as ‘warning strikes’ by German public sector workers hit transport and other sectors. – Tens of thousands of air passengers were stranded as Europe aviation giants Lufthansa and Air France were hit by strikes that crippled traffic at several major European airports. (Photo by Daniel ROLAND / AFP)

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, Germany (AFP) — Almost 640 flights were canceled in Germany Thursday as security staff went on strike at three airports, meaning disruption for around 100,000 passengers.

The number of flights blocked was more than half the 1,050 scheduled for Duesseldorf, Cologne-Bonn and Stuttgart.

Duesseldorf — the country’s third-largest airport — said in a statement that 370 of Thursday’s 580 planned departures had to be canceled.

News agency DPA reported that the walkout, slated to last from 3:00 am (0200 GMT) to midnight (1100 GMT), was expected to affect around 100,000 travelers.

At Cologne-Bonn, where 131 of almost 200 flights were canceled, union Verdi told DPA the security strike was also slowing freight handling.

The knock-on effects of the walkout also triggered flight cancellations at Munich airport, which is already grappling with disruptions caused by inclement weather.

Representing 23,000 airport security staff across Germany, Verdi is demanding a pay increase to 20 euros ($23.08) per hour.

Wages currently vary nationwide, with workers in some airports in eastern Germany earning around 14 euros hourly, compared with just over 17 euros for their peers in the capital and western parts of the country.

Employers’ association BDLS meanwhile is offering increases of between two and 6.4 percent.

Passengers’ first taste of the pay dispute came Monday when Berlin’s two airports Tegel and Schoenefeld suffered “warning strikes” with around 50 departures canceled.

The next round of Verdi and BDLS negotiations will take place on January 23.

© Agence France-Presse