Over 1,000 Lufthansa flights canceled due to staff strikes
BERLIN (AP) — More than 1,000 Lufthansa flights were canceled on Wednesday due to an all-day strike by the airline’s German ground staff, affecting tens of thousands of passengers in the latest travel crisis in Europe.
About 134,000 passengers had to change their travel plans or cancel them altogether. At least 47 connections were canceled on Tuesday, German news agency dpa reported.
Lufthansa‘s main hubs in Frankfurt and Munich were the most affected, but flights were also canceled in Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Berlin, Bremen, Hanover, Stuttgart and Cologne.
The airline advised affected passengers not to travel to airports as most service counters would be unstaffed. Airport terminals were unusually empty early in the morning, but people were queuing at counters later to try to find replacements for their canceled flights, dpa reported.
Many stranded passengers had arrived in Germany from abroad to find their connecting flights grounded due to the walkout.
At Frankfurt airport, 725 of the 1,160 scheduled flights were canceled during the day, according to a spokesman for airport operator Fraport. Flights operated by other airlines, which are usually handled by Lufthansa ground staff, were also affected, dpa reported.
Flights operated by Lufthansa Group companies such as Swiss International Air Lines, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Italian regional airline Air Dolomiti were also canceled. In addition, planes from Croatia Airlines, United Airlines, Air Canada and LOT from Poland could not take off, dpa reported.
Service workers’ union ver.di announced the strike on Monday as it seeks to pressure Lufthansa in pay negotiations for around 20,000 employees in the airline’s logistics, technical and cargo divisions.
“Lufthansa did not make an adequate offer in the first two rounds” of negotiations, union spokesman Dennis Dacke said on Wednesday.
“It’s time for employees to speak up now ahead of the third round of bargaining,” Dacke said. “This is a ‘warning strike’, and the effects are visible. We hope that Lufthansa will not call another in the future.”
Lufthansa spokesman Martin Leutke called the strikes harmful.
“People who wanted to travel, who had been planning a vacation for a long time, who had been waiting for a vacation, saw these vacation dreams unfortunately postponed…maybe even destroyed by the strike,” Leutke told reporters in Frankfurt. “This strike is completely unnecessary. It is also completely exaggerated.
Airports in Germany and across Europe were already experiencing disruptions and long queues for security checks due to understaffing and high travel demand.
As inflation soars, strikes for higher wages by airport crews in France and Scandinavian Airlines pilots in Sweden, Norway and Denmark have deepened the disruption. Travelers have faced last minute cancellations, long delays, lost luggage or long waits for baggage at airports across Europe.
Travel is booming this summer after two years of COVID-19 restrictions, overwhelming airlines and airports that don’t have enough workers after pandemic-era layoffs. Airports like Heathrow in London and Schiphol in Amsterdam have daily flights or limited passenger numbers.
The Lufthansa strike began at 3:45 a.m. local time on Wednesday and is expected to end at 6 a.m. Thursday.
Ver.di is demanding a 9.5% pay rise this year and says an offer from Lufthansa earlier this month, which would involve a deal for an 18-month period, fell far short of its demands.
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