Berlin: Strike action by public sector employees as well as by ground and flight control staff at Germany’s four major airports brought air traffic in the northern part of the country to a virtual standstill.
A total of 351 flights were cancelled on Monday, affecting up to 100,000 passengers, according to the German Airports Association (ADV), which said that the strikes were announced at short notice, leaving travellers with little chance to look for alternatives, reports Xinhua news agency.
“Airports are part of the critical infrastructure and must be protected from strike escalations,” ADV Chief Executive Ralph Beisel told Xinhua.
“All-day strikes that cut off several German metropolitan regions from international air traffic ceased to have anything to do with warning strikes long ago.”
At the Berlin Brandenburg Airport alone, 200 departures were cancelled affecting 27,000 passengers.
In Hamburg, all 123 departures were cancelled, while in Hanover and Bremen there were no arrivals or departures at all.
German airports, including two of the largest, Frankfurt and Dusseldorf, had already been hit twice by massive strikes in February.
Trade union Verdi is demanding a monthly pay rise of 10.5 per cent, but at least 500 euros a month, for all 2.5 million public sector employees.
The employers have only offered a 5 per cent wage increase in two steps as well as a tax-free one-time payment of 2,500 euros.
Even though the country’s airports account for less than 2 per cent of public sector employees, they were “misused as a high-profile stage to push through demands”, Beisel said.
Travellers in Europe’s largest economy are likely to face further transport disruptions in the coming weeks.
According to a report by Bild newspaper, the Railway and Transport Union, together with Verdi, is planning a strike at the end of March.