Frankfurt am Main (AFP) – Tens of thousands of air passengers were stranded Tuesday as aviation giants Lufthansa and Air France were hit by strikes that crippled traffic at several major European airports.
Germany’s biggest carrier Lufthansa was forced to cancel 800 out of 1,600 scheduled flights, including 58 long-haul flights, as German public sector workers including ground crew and airport firefighters walked out between 5:00 am and 6:00 pm (0300 and 1600 GMT).
Tuesday’s “warning strike” hit Germany’s biggest airport Frankfurt as well as other regional hubs such as Munich, Cologne and Bremen.
Half of the flights at Munich were delayed or cancelled according to the union Verdi, reported national news agency DPA.
Beyond airports, local transport, kindergartens, rubbish collection and hospitals were also affected as civil servants walked out to demand a 6.0-percent pay raise for the 2.3 million people working for Germany’s federal, state and local governments.
Sybille Metzler, who was due to travel to Amsterdam for a meeting, turned up at Frankfurt airport despite warnings from the operator that her flight had been cancelled.
“I know, but I wanted to see if I can still get there, because it won’t work with the train,” the 41-year-old management accountant told AFP.
In an unrelated industrial action in France, air traffic was also severely disrupted as the country’s biggest airline Air France was forced to cancel one in four flights in the sixth round of strikes launched by its employees since February.
The group said the strikes between February 22 and April 11 are estimated to cost 170 million euros ($210 million).
But several Air France unions have called four further days of industrial action in April as they seek 6.0 percent of pay raise.