Lufhansa strike starts to bite
After initially having little impact, a strike by the groundstaff of German flag carrier Lufthansa has started to bring massive disruption to airports throughout the countryBerlin -- A pay strike by ground and cabin staff at German national carrier Lufthansa caused the cancellation of 70 domestic flights on its second day Tuesday, as services union Verdi extended its industrial action to additional airports across Germany.
The airline, Germany's largest, said nine aircraft of its fleet of 520 were not operational as they had not undergone the required maintenance.
Lufthansa had cancelled a total of 35 domestic return flights over the course of Tuesday, company Berlin spokesman Wolfgang Weber said.
The airline was maintaining its service in the middle of the holiday season, he said. "Nobody is being left stranded. We are transferring passengers to other flights to get to the various hubs."
Weber noted that, while there was increased holiday traffic, there were correspondingly fewer business passengers and that domestic flights were not fully booked.
Lufthansa spokeswoman Claudia Lange said in Frankfurt, Germany's main hub for long-haul destinations, that intercontinental flights had not been affected.
Verdi, Germany's second largest union with 2.2 million members, said it had extended the strike action from Frankfurt, Munich and Hamburg to include the two Berlin airports and Nuremberg.
Stuttgart would follow in the course of the day, the union said. Verdi is demanding 9.8 per cent more pay for 50,000 Lufthansa workers. Pilots are not involved in the current strike.
The union, which has said it is attempting to target Lufthansa financially by forcing it to take expensive emergency measures, repeated its prediction the strike would begin to bite in the days ahead.
Lufthansa has urged the union to return to talks. "Our door remains open. We are ready for dialogue," company negotiations spokesman Klaus Walther told national news broadcaster N-TV.
The airline is offering 6.7 per cent more pay over a 21-month contract plus a one-off payment.