Strike by German Airport Security Staff Grounds Flights

 - January 15, 2019, 2:33 PM

A strike by airport security staff at Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Hanover, Bremen, Leipzig/Halle, Dresden, and Erfurt airport affected hundreds of flights in and out of Germany and forced the country’s largest operator, Lufthansa, to cancel around 500 flights—more than a third of its schedule—on Tuesday. The cancelations include flights within Europe and intercontinental services with a volume of 200,000 passengers across the eight airports, said senior v-p for ground operations of Lufthansa’s hub airlines Andreas Döpper.

Frankfurt remained open as a transit airport, he said, but local passengers departing from the airport would not be able to board their flight due to the walkout of the security personnel. At Frankfurt Airport, about half of the planned 1,200 departures were canceled and many of the operating flights had delays, according to airport operator and owner Fraport.

The coordinated walkout was called by the Ver.di union, and joined by German civil servants trade union DBB, to protest the lack of progress in talks to improve the wages and working conditions of the 23,000 aviation security employees at German airports. Tuesday’s industrial action marks the third strike day by airport security staff in Germany this year. Strikes took place at Berlin’s Tegel and Schoenfeld airports January 7 and in Düsseldorf, Cologne and Stuttgart on January 10.

"The warning strikes,” Ver.di negotiator Benjamin Roscher noted, are the answer to the so far insufficient offer of the employer, the Federal Association of Aviation Security Companies (BDLS), after four rounds of collective bargaining negotiations. “Workers stand behind their demands,” he emphasized.

The Association of the German aviation industry BDL criticized the strikes, describing them as “completely disproportionate” and thwarting the efforts to improve the efficiency of security checks at German airports and increase customer satisfaction. According to BDL chief executive Matthias von Randow, security checks in Germany are organized less efficiently than in other European countries, such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, and the United Kingdom, where nearly twice as many passengers per control track are handled per hour.

Detlef Kayser, Lufthansa board member for airline resources and operations standards, accused Ver.di of lacking interest in making its contribution to improving Germany as an aviation location, in spite of an agreement “between all aviation partners that we want to improve the situation for our passengers in 2019.” Germany, he maintained, “already has the lowest quality security checks at the highest costs, compared to Europe and other countries around the world."