Frankfurt airport remains open despite strike
Feb 20, 2012, 17:55 GMT
Frankfurt - A strike by some 200 ground controllers at Frankfurt Airport disrupted flights on the first day of a 48-hour strike Monday, but Europe's third-biggest airport said it had managed to keep operations going by using non-union staff.
Airlines cancelled short-haul routes or merged flights to reduce the load, but the airport said most take-offs and landings went ahead regularly. The rest of the German airport's 20,000 staff were working normally.
Of the 1,250 movements scheduled for the day, only about 230 were expected to be cancelled, either because of timetable changes or bottlenecks, the airport said. Ground controllers guide planes in and out of their parking places.
'So far everything is calm, the passengers have adjusted to it,' said a spokesman for the airport, which has rejected demands by the controllers for big pay rises and simultaneous cuts in work hours.
The strike was due to last until 5 am (0400 GMT) Wednesday, Markus Siebers, an official with the union, Gewerkschaft der Flugsicherung, said.
No long-haul flights were cancelled, a spokesman for German airline Lufthansa said.
Martin Gaebges of the Board of Airline Representatives in Germany (BARIG) praised the airport for giving priority to long-haul flights. He urged the airport to refuse the pay demands. 'Otherwise we will end up paying via higher landing fees,' he said.
Germany's government declined to intervene, saying the strike was a collective contract issue only.
Fraport, the airport operator, said non-union personnel had been trained to replace the striking workers.
The union criticized Fraport for not budging during the negotiations while Fraport said the union was being stubborn, and that it was prepared to talk if the union ended its strikes and was willing to compromise.