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15 Mar, 2022 12:24

Air traffic disrupted in Germany

Germany’s largest airport in Frankfurt stopped its operations
Air traffic disrupted in Germany

Air traffic was disrupted in Germany on Tuesday, as security personnel in several major airports, including Frankfurt, Hamburg and Stuttgart went on strike in demand of higher wages.

The industrial action at Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany’s largest airport, organized by the trade union ver.di, began at 2 AM local time, when staff for cargo and passenger controls stopped working, according to the German news agency dpa.

Airport operator Fraport warned that all travelers hoping to board a flight in Frankfurt shouldn't even arrive at the airport. There were over 770 take-offs and landings scheduled for Tuesday that had to be canceled due to the walkout.

"The short-term worker’s activity means a horror scenario for the passengers, who have no way of preparing for the flight cancellations," said Ralph Beisel, the general manager of the Working Group of German Airports, mentioning the already difficult situation for the airports during the pandemic.

Employees in Stuttgart, Hamburg and Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden also abandoned their posts on Tuesday, while in Munich, Germany’s second-largest airport, staff have been on strike since Monday. Other airports including Berlin, Dusseldorf and Hannover canceled a whole range of flights on Monday due to strikes there.

The nation-wide strikes were part of a dispute between a German trade union ver.di and the Federal Association of Aviation Security Companies. The union is negotiating a deal involving 25,000 security staff nationwide, demanding their wages are increased by at least 1 euro per hour.

“The work of the aviation security forces must remain financially attractive so that the urgently needed specialists can be recruited. At least 150 specialists are currently needed in Frankfurt in order to be able to check passengers in a reasonable time and to avoid long queues. Therefore, the wage must be increased by at least 1 euro. The employer offer is far below what the employees demand,” said ver.di negotiator Wolfgang Pieper on the union’s official website. 

According to the ver.di statement, the strike in Frankfurt is scheduled to end on Tuesday at 11 PM local time. So far, three rounds of previous negotiations provided no results, but both sides are set to meet in Berlin later this week.

Global flight network and supply chains are already facing difficulties due to the closure of airspace by the EU countries for Russian aircraft and reciprocal measures taken by the Russian government due to the conflict in Ukraine and sanctions that followed. Transport between Europe and Asian destinations like Japan, South Korea and China was affected the most, with several airlines including Lufthansa, Air France KLM, Finnair and Virgin Atlantic having canceled North Asian cargo flights due to the closed skies over Siberia in early March and other carriers have been re-routed.

Moscow attacked its neighbor in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk.