Verdi, the union representing 20,000 Lufthansa ground staff, called the one-day strike that hits airports in Germany and adds to the chaos seen across the entire travel industry this summer in Europe/Photo: AfricanCourierMedia

Lufthansa cancels flights again as strike hits German airports

Lufthansa has again cancelled more than 1,000 flights due to the warning strike by its ground staff, affecting tens of thousands of passengers in the middle of the holiday season.

The walkout will start at 3.45 a.m. on Wednesday and end at 6 a.m. on Thursday local time, the trade union Ver.di said in a statement on Monday. The industrial action by the 20,000-strong ground staff will affect major hubs in Germany including Frankfurt, Berlin and Dusseldorf.

As a precaution, Lufthansa cancelled more than 1,000 flights at its Frankfurt and Munich hubs and fears repercussions until Friday, the last school day before the summer holidays in Bavaria.

About 134,000 passengers had to change their travel plans or cancel them altogether. Already on Tuesday, at least 47 connections had been cancelled. Lufthansa advised the affected passengers not to come to the airports because most of the counters there were not manned anyway.

In a previous industrial action, the terminals had already remained largely empty on the day of the strike itself. According to Verdi, various Lufthansa companies at the Frankfurt and Munich hubs as well as in Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Berlin, Bremen, Hanover, Stuttgart and Cologne have been on strike since 3:45 am on Wednesday.

The ground staff comprise a wide range of workers, including counter staff, aircraft technicians and the drivers of the huge tugs that move planes to their correct positions at the airport. The strike is expected to last until 6:00 a.m. on Thursday.

At each of the decentralised airports, only Lufthansa flights to and from Munich and Frankfurt are expected to be cancelled. In addition to the 1,023 cancelled flights with LH flight numbers, further connections may come from Lufthansa Group companies such as Swiss, Austrian and Air Dolomiti, as they are handled at the hubs by Lufthansa ground staff.

Ver.di last month demanded a 9.5% pay increase, or at least 350 euros more each month over 12 months for members. Lufthansa and Ver.di have held two rounds of talks on the future salaries and working conditions of around 20,000 ground staff. A third meeting is scheduled for 3-4 August in Frankfurt.

The one-day strike adds to the chaos seen at airports across Europe this summer.

Vivian Asamoah

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