Frankfurt airport ground controllers extended a strike until 11 p.m. on Feb. 24, prolonging a dispute that may force the cancellation today of as many as 20 percent of flights at Europe’s third-busiest hub.
So far, 187 of the 1,200 flights planned for today have been scrapped, airport owner Fraport AG said in a statement. The Gewerkschaft der Flugsicherung union said late yesterday that the 200 strikers will stay away from their jobs an extra three days instead of returning to work at 5 a.m. tomorrow.
Walkouts started on Feb. 16 in the GdF’s dispute over wages and terms for contracting out taxiway-traffic and plane-parking operations. Fraport halted 240 takeoffs and landings in Frankfurt yesterday, or 20 percent of the 1,250 scheduled, mostly on short-haul routes.
The GdF has said stoppages will continue until Fraport makes a better offer. The airport, the main hub for Deutsche Lufthansa AG, reiterated today that it’s willing to talk if the union makes compromises.
“It is conceivable that if no offer is received, the air traffic controllers at the airport could strike in solidarity,” Dirk Vogelsang, the GdF’s chief negotiator, said by telephone today. “We will have to see what happens when the current strike ends on Friday.”
Fraport is looking at hiring emergency employees from other airports, and qualified ground-control workers have been drafted in from administrative posts, Juergen Harrer, a spokesman at the Frankfurt-based company, said yesterday.
The GdF, which has struck deals with airports in Munich and Berlin, has said it accepted a recommendation from mediator Ole von Beust for a two-step increase in monthly wages of between 200 euros ($265) and 1,600 euros. It also wants any outsourced jobs to move to a single company on a single contract. Fraport reiterated today that the union’s demands for wages and benefit increases are too costly.