News24

Frankfurt Airport braces for strike

2012-02-16 14:55

Frankfurt - Frankfurt Airport, Europe's third busiest hub, braced for travel chaos on Thursday, with as many as half of all flights cancelled due to a strike by airport tarmac workers over pay.

Fraport, the company which owns and operates Germany's largest airport, is aiming to keep "50% of operations up and running" on Thursday and Friday despite a walkout by so-called "apron control" staff, who direct aircraft in and out of their parking positions, a spokesperson said.

It was primarily up the airlines themselves to decide which flights would take off or land, said spokesperson Mike Schweitzer, advising passengers to contact the airlines directly.

Fraport had trained other staff to take over the duties and tasks of the striking workers.

"And former colleagues who used to work in this area have also said they would jump in," Schweitzer said. "We will ensure that flight safety is guaranteed."

The GdF union of air traffic workers has estimated that around 400 flights - or 30-40% of the total daily flights - will be affected on Thursday.

Warning strike

German carrier Lufthansa, which has its main hub in Frankfurt, said it would cancel as many as 100 flights taking off or landing here, also equivalent to around a third of its daily total.

According to the union, about 200 personnel, including workers in the actual air traffic control centre, as well as those working on the airport tarmac, will stop work on Thursday.

And because the walkout was not having a big enough effect, a further warning strike would be held again from on Friday, GdF announced.

The union called for warning strikes after Fraport turned down mediation proposals in their wage dispute.

The union argues that apron controllers' pay does not take into account the additional complexity resulting from the opening late last year of a fourth runway in Frankfurt.

Fraport has denounced the action as "irresponsible" and "incomprehensible", but pledged to limit disruption as much as possible.