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Frankfurt Airport Rejects Travelers on Security Staff Strike

Feb. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Fraport AG, the operator of Frankfurt airport, Europe’s third-busiest, closed access for outbound passengers after strikes of security staff congested safety checkpoints.

“We kindly request that originating passengers no longer come to the airport, because they will have no possibility of getting to their flight,” the company said on its website.

Fraport said airlines canceled 74 flights today, most of them operated by Deutsche Lufthansa AG. The company had planned to handle 149,000 passengers today, spokesman Dieter Hulick said, with just less than 60 percent of those being transfer passengers, who can get to the gates if their flight is still scheduled.

The remainder also includes inbound travelers largely unaffected by the strike, he said, declining to quantify how many passengers are being turned away. Ver.di union yesterday called on about 5,000 security workers to join a protest for higher pay.

Wage disputes in Germany have increasingly lead to strikes at the airport, Lufthansa’s biggest hub. The Ver.di union all but grounded the airline’s fleet in a fight for higher wages for ground personnel in April, and the carrier’s pilots are currently voting on a walkout that may occur next month.

Neither Lufthansa nor Fraport are negotiating parties in the dispute in which Ver.di is pressing for an hourly wage of 16 euros ($26.64) for employees conducting safety checks on passengers and freight.

Union Pressure

“We don’t strike against passengers and we regret the negotiations are deadlocked,” Ver.di strike leader Mathias Venema said in a statement. “From a union perspective, today is a success.”

The union is pressuring contractors organized in the country’s security industry association, BDSW, which has offered hourly wages of 10 euros to 13 euros, the union has said. The parties have held four rounds of wage talks since December, with the next date set for March 5.

“The effects of the strike are completely unacceptable,” Lufthansa said in a statement today. “People not involved are being exploited for the enforcement of wage demands.”

Lufthansa and Fraport saw traffic disrupted by a series of strikes at airports from Hamburg to Dusseldorf for months last year as Ver.di pushed for higher wages for security staff at those locations. Lufthansa also saw its cabin crews walk out in September 2012 and was hit by several strikes in the year by air traffic controllers in various countries.

Flights by British Airways, Aeroflot, and Air Berlin have also been canceled today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Richard Weiss in Frankfurt at rweiss5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net

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