Lufthansa, Air Berlin Cut Flights on German Airport Strike

  • Frankfurt, Munich, Cologne hit by stoppages on Wednesday
  • German airports' public employees taking part in pay walkouts

Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Air Berlin Plc and other airlines canceled hundreds of flights in Germany on Wednesday as a strike by public-services workers at airports hobbled operations in Frankfurt, Munich and Cologne.

Lufthansa eliminated 895 flights, or 60 percent of the services it had scheduled for Wednesday, Germany’s biggest carrier said in a statement. Munich airport, where a new 900 million-euro ($1.02 billion) terminal opened on Tuesday, was hardest hit, with 700 flights canceled including 545 from Lufthansa. In Frankfurt, there were 392 cancellations.

Air Berlin, Germany’s second-largest airline, dropped at least 43 domestic flights slated for Munich and Cologne and re-routed long-haul flights to Nuremberg, which isn’t targeted by the walkout. EasyJet Plc canceled four flights to and from Munich, while low-cost rival Ryanair Holdings Plc cut two services to Cologne and postponed 18 others. Services in Cologne were cut nearly in half with 103 out of 276 flights canceled.

“These strikes are totally inappropriate,” German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said in an e-mailed statement. With the government offering raises of 3 percent and other concessions in the last round of negotiations, “they should discuss it first instead of striking.”

The Ver.di labor union organized walkouts of as long as a day at six airports as part of a wider pay dispute involving German federal and local government employees. The union is demanding 6 percent pay raises for 2.1 million public-service workers across the country and is scheduled to meet with authorities on the next round of talks on Thursday and Friday.

Other airports affected by the strike include Dusseldorf, Dortmund and Hanover, with stoppages planned by check-in, security and fire-service workers. Hospitals, kindergartens and public transport in some cities were also targeted by the walkout.

With the Frankfurt airport strike set to end at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Lufthansa’s operations there will probably return to “close to normal” later in the afternoon, and the airline plans to run almost its full schedule in Munich on Thursday, Helmut Tolksdorf, a spokesman at the carrier, said by phone. Any cancellations are the result of planes being stuck in the wrong locations by the walkouts, he said. Lufthansa’s website shows 14 flights scrapped in Munich on Thursday.

Lufthansa estimated earlier that about 87,000 of its customers were affected by the stoppages.

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