Union-backed security strikes at German airports disrupt cargo ops

Following strikes at Berlin’s Tegel (TXL) and Schönefeld (SXF) airports on Jan. 7, more German union-backed strikes took place yesterday, Jan. 10, at Cologne (CGN), Dusseldorf (DUS) and Stuttgart (STR) airports. About 600 flights at the three airports were cancelled yesterday, according to FlightStats.

Germany’s largest trade union, Verdi, is in continued negotiations with the Federal Association of Aviation Security Companies (BDLS), the organization representing Germany’s airport security, for a wage increase to €20.00 an hour (US$22.79) for all security staff checking freight, goods, passengers, and all other airport employees at all hubs. BDLS, however, rejected Verdi’s demand on the basis that wages vary by airport and role, which spurred the union to call for strikes, according to Aviation Voice.

The strikes yesterday, which began at 3:00 a.m. local time (2:00 UTC) at STR and midnight at CGN and DUS, disrupted passenger traffic and cargo operations at the airport. CGN told Air Cargo Airports, “Because fewer control lanes were available at the entrance to our security area/cargo section between ‘landside’ and ‘airside,’ there were longer waiting times for the forwarding agents and the truck traffic.” The airport also said the strike contributed to a traffic jam in front of the security area.

Lufthansa Cargo, which operates many of its flights out of these airports, experienced 91 flight cancellations and 272 delays yesterday and 160 cancellations and 287 delays today, according to FlightStats. However, In a statement to Air Cargo Airports, the carrier said that its cargo operations thus far have not “been affected by any strike-related cancellations or delays. There have only been minor effects on our cargo business due to snowy weather.”

The company does expect a “considerable amount of disruptions to flight operations to and from Frankfurt Airport” next week, as the union has now called for a Jan. 15 security personnel strike at FRA, which the carrier is currently working to preemptively mitigate.

Negotiations between BDLS and Verdi are set to resume on Jan. 23, though the union has warned that irresolution of these negotiations could lead to further strikes at German airports.