Air traffic: Verdi warning strikes hit airports and Lufthansa passengers

With renewed warning strikes by several professional groups, the Verdi union will paralyze important parts of German air traffic tomorrow.

Air traffic: Verdi warning strikes hit airports and Lufthansa passengers

With renewed warning strikes by several professional groups, the Verdi union will paralyze important parts of German air traffic tomorrow. Passengers have to prepare for hundreds of flight cancellations and delays. In addition to the Lufthansa ground staff, the aviation security forces in Frankfurt and Hamburg have also been called on to stop work.

This means that passengers cannot fly from these two airports on Thursday - unless they just change there. The first flight cancellations are expected to occur in the evening because the technical departments of the ground staff were supposed to go on warning strike earlier.

Munich Airport should remain open despite the strike

Munich Airport, on the other hand, is expected to remain open on Thursday and Friday despite the strikes, but is expecting many flight cancellations. “On both days of the strike, only 10 to 20 percent of the flight program will take place,” said a Lufthansa spokeswoman. Accordingly, around 1,000 flights were originally planned in Munich for the entire period of the Verdi union's warning strike in the collective bargaining dispute with Lufthansa. According to a spokesman for the airport, around 500 of the 800 flights planned for the day will be canceled on Thursday alone. A similar rate is expected for Friday.

With the approximately 19,000 flight attendants at Lufthansa and its subsidiary Cityline, another professional group has prepared itself for strike. The cabin union UFO reported an overwhelming turnout in the strike vote, in which more than 96 percent voted for industrial action. However, the sector union has not yet announced a strike date. A strike can still be avoided, said UFO boss Joachim Vázquez Bürger. “We remain open to appropriate offers and fair solutions from the employer in order to possibly avert strikes in the short term.”

Lufthansa boss Carsten Spohr, who will present the annual balance sheet of the MDax group in Frankfurt on Thursday, could send public signals. According to previous announcements, Europe's aviation group with the highest sales has continued to recover from the Corona shock and will report one of the highest operating profits in its history at around 2.7 billion euros.

On Tuesday evening, Hamburg Airport canceled all 141 departures for Thursday due to the lack of security checks. The press office at Helmut Schmidt Airport said some of the planes would take off without passengers. This is necessary to avoid further disruptions to air traffic. The airport is expecting a lot of rebookings for Friday, so busy flights can be expected. However, due to the parallel train drivers' strike, there is no longer any possibility of switching to the train, at least on short journeys.

Arrivals will be possible in Frankfurt

The Frankfurt operator Fraport recommends that passengers contact their airlines and under no circumstances come to the airport. Originally, 1,170 take-offs and landings with around 160,000 passengers on board were planned for Thursday at Germany's largest airport. Which connections are canceled is up to the respective airline, said an airport spokesman. Airport operations will be maintained so that transit passengers can continue to transfer. Arrivals will also be possible in Frankfurt.

The largest airport customer Lufthansa, which accounts for more than two thirds of Frankfurt's traffic, will also be on strike by its own ground staff the following day, Friday to Saturday morning, at 7:10 a.m. The airline warned its customers on Thursday: "The security checks outside the transit area will be closed. Access to the departure area is therefore not possible. We therefore ask all guests who would like to start their journey in Frankfurt or Hamburg on March 7th not to go to the airport to come to the respective airport."

At other airports, inspectors do not go on strike. The employees are employed by private companies that check passengers, staff and luggage at the entrances to the security area on behalf of the Federal Police. In Bavaria, however, the aviation security forces are part of the public service. Munich Airport therefore remains open, and Lufthansa says it is trying to offer 10 to 20 percent of its original program. The warning strike by Lufthansa ground staff begins in the technical areas on Wednesday evening and is scheduled to continue until Saturday morning at 7:10 a.m.

Verdi's demands

The Verdi union has called on Lufthansa's entire ground staff, numbering around 25,000 people, to go on a warning strike. It is already the fifth wave of warning strikes in the tariff dispute and the third with a direct impact on passengers. Verdi charges 12.5 percent more money for a term of twelve months, while the company has previously offered 10 percent for a term of 28 months. After four rounds of negotiations, an inflation compensation bonus of 3,000 euros is comparatively undisputed.

Aviation security collective bargaining concerns the working conditions of around 25,000 employees of private security service providers. So far, five rounds of negotiations in the collective bargaining dispute have failed to produce any results, and more than 1,100 flights were canceled during the first wave of warning strikes at eleven airports. Verdi is calling for an hourly wage increase of 2.80 euros over a period of twelve months, with overtime bonuses starting more quickly from the first hour of overtime. According to their own information, the employers from the Federal Association of Aviation Security Companies (BDLS) have offered 2.70 euros in three stages with a term of 24 months.