A massive strike by ground handling workers and security staff at several airports across Germany has forced Lufthansa to proactively cancel around 800 flights scheduled for Tuesday 10th April. The airline estimates around 90,000 passengers will be impacted by the coordinated mass-walkout by staff in Frankfurt, Munich, Cologne and Bremen.
By far the largest airline in Germany, Lufthansa is set to be worst impacted by the strike which has been called by the United Services Trade Union, which is otherwise known as Ver.di. It’s part of a coordinated action by the union which will see government workers at both local and federal level take part in the strikes.
The Ver.di union has warned of “massive strikes” in the coming days as part of an effort to win pay raises for government employees. The union was open in admitting that they hoped Tuesday’s walkout will “lead to severe restrictions in air traffic.”
Airport fire service workers will also take part in the action – a move which will effectively close the affected airports entirely. While tomorrow’s strike is focused on air travel, other government services could be shut down in the coming days.
“The economy is booming, and the tax revenues of the federal government and municipalities are as high as in a long time,” explained Frank Bsirske, the chairman of the Ver.di union.
Bsirske says the union is demanding a 6% salary rise for its members – or a minimum rise of €200 per month. The union also wants trainees and interns to get a rise of at least €100 per month and a mandatory offer of employment once their internship has finished.
Tuesday’s strike will start at 5am and is due to finish at 6pm CEST. During that time, Lufthansa expects to slash half of its daily schedule of 1,600 flights – the majority of services to be cut will be short-haul flights although 58 long-haul flights have also been axed.
The airline is urging passengers to check the status of their flight via the Lufthansa website or app and is also offering a number of alternatives:
- For domestic flights, passengers can opt to travel by train – even if their flight is still scheduled to operate as normal.
- Passengers expecting to fly from either Frankfurt or Munich can rebook their flight free of charge for travel in the next seven days.
A spokesperson for Lufthansa has blasted Ver.di for the short notice strike, saying: “It is completely unacceptable for the union to impose this conflict on uninvolved passengers.”
“Lufthansa is not a part of this collective bargaining conflict, but unfortunately our customers and our company are being affected by the consequences of this dispute,” Bettina Volkens commented.
A number of other airlines have warned of the potential for disruption tomorrow. easyJet says passengers should expect delays and cancellations while saying passengers on flights which have not been cancelled should arrive at the airport extra early.
British Airways is offering its passengers free rebooking options up to and including Sunday 15th April. It says a “small number” of flights have already been cancelled and others may face delays. BA will be operating some flights with larger aircraft to accommodate as many passengers as possible.
Anyone caught up in the disruption won’t be able to take advantage of EU261 denied boarding compensation as the delays and cancellations are the result of industrial action.
Ver.di says it expects a third round of negotiations to take place on 15th and 16th April in Potsdam.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.