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Monday,  May 20, 2024 7:34 AM 

Millions of travellers affected by air & rail strikes in Germany

  • Air
  •   03-08-2024  6:32 am
  •   Pax Global Media

Millions of travellers affected by air & rail strikes in Germany
Frankfurt airport. (Ilya Cher/Unsplash)
Pax Global Media

Millions of travellers in Germany were forced to make alternative travel plans on Thursday (March 7) after dual transportation strikes crippled the country’s rail and air transport systems.

The walkouts took place at national airline Lufthansa and rail operator Deutsche Bahn where workers are demanding higher wages.

The move marked the fifth strike in a months-long wage dispute between the drivers' union and Deutsche Bahn, Germany’s national railway company.

The country’s long-distance and regional rail network came to a halt as train drivers began a 35-hour strike over their pay rate.

Deutsche Bahn said yesterday that only 20 per cent of its long-distance trains were running.

The job action, however, coincided with a two-day strike by ground staff at Lufthansa, with the carrier expected to fly just 10 per cent to 20 per cent of its schedule.

Lufthansa said earlier this week that some 1,000 flights per day would be cancelled, affecting about 200,000 air passengers.

On the rail side, the German Train Drivers' Union (GDL) is reportedly demanding a reduction in the working week from 38 to 35 hours, without a pay cut, which Deutsche Bahn has refused.

In terms of regional transportation, the train operator said it expected the strike would result in "greatly reduced service,” and that disruptions would vary by region.

"The completely unnecessary GDL strike affects the plans of millions of travellers," said operator spokeswoman Anja Bröker, according to one local report.

At Lufthansa, the Ver.di union, which represents some 25,000 airline ground staff, is demanding a 12.5 per cent pay rise or at least €500 (£426)) more per month. The union also wants an inflation compensation bonus of €3,000.

The airline has offered to bump pay by 10 per cent, after it announced on Thursday that profits had doubled in 2023 to €1.67bn from €791m in 2022.

But Ver.di has so far refused this offer, saying that its ground staff are barely earning the a minimum wage.

Lufthansa says it will gradually resume flight operations in Frankfurt and Munich on Saturday morning (March 9) when the Ver.di strike ends. 

"Due to the effects of the 60-hour strike, there may still be occasional delays or flight cancellations. Therefore, we kindly ask you to regularly check the current status of your flight at or via the app," the airline wrote on the X platform. 

It's the latest in a series of strikes that have disrupted Germany's transportation sector. 

Last month, security staff at the country’s biggest airports took job action following unsuccessful pay negotiations, a move that grounded flights at German airports, including Frankfurt, a global hub.

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