German airline Lufthansa's ground staff strike over wage dispute; affects 134,000 fliers
Approximately 134,000 passengers were forced to change or cancel their travel plans. At least 47 connections had already been cancelled on Tuesday.
More than 1,000 Lufthansa flights were cancelled on Wednesday due to a one-day strike by the German airline's ground staff, affecting tens of thousands of passengers in Europe's latest travel chaos.
Approximately 134,000 passengers were forced to change or cancel their travel plans. According to the German news agency DPA, at least 47 connections had already been cancelled on Tuesday.
Flights were cancelled in Duesseldorf, Hamburg, Berlin, Bremen, Hannover, Stuttgart, Cologne, and Lufthansa's main hubs in Frankfurt and Munich. The airline advised affected passengers not to visit the airports because most counters would be closed.
The strikes, according to Lufthansa spokesman Martin Leutke, are harmful. "People who wanted to travel, who had planned vacations for a long time, who waited for vacations, had their vacation dreams, unfortunately, postponed, possibly destroyed, by the strike," Leutke told reporters in Frankfurt. "This strike is not only unnecessary, but it is also greatly exaggerated."
As per the spokesman of airport operator Fraport, 725 of the 1,160 scheduled flights at Frankfurt Airport were cancelled for the day. According to DPA, other airlines' flights, usually supported by Lufthansa ground staff, were also impacted. Lufthansa had announced 646 strike-related flight cancellations for Wednesday.
The ver.di service workers' union announced the strike on Monday to put pressure on Lufthansa in wage negotiations for approximately 20,000 employees of the airline's logistical, technical, and cargo subsidiaries.
The strike comes when airports in Germany and across Europe are already experiencing disruption and long security lines due to staff shortages and rising travel demand.
Strikes for higher pay by airport crews in France and Scandinavian Airlines pilots in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark have exacerbated the chaos for passengers who have faced last-minute cancellations, lengthy delays, lost luggage, or long waits for bags in airports across Europe.
After two years of COVID-19 restrictions, travel is booming this summer, swamping airlines and airports that don't have enough workers due to pandemic-era layoffs. Airports such as London's Heathrow and Amsterdam's Schiphol have a limited number of daily flights or passengers.
The Lufthansa strike began at 3:45 am local time on Wednesday and is scheduled to end early Thursday. These 'warning strikes' are common in German labour negotiations, lasting anywhere from a few hours to a day or two.
Ver.di is requesting a 9.5 per cent pay increase this year and claims that a recent offer from Lufthansa, which would involve an 18-month contract, falls far short of its expectations.