COLOGNE/BONN. Verdi union members are striking at Cologne/Bonn, Düsseldorf and Stuttgart Airports due to a wage dispute affecting security personnel. Cargo airlines such as DHL, UPS and Fedex are also affected.
On Wednesday it was the winter weather. On Thursday it is a warning strike that has left most of the air traffic at Cologne/Bonn Airport at a standstill. The airport announced on Thursday morning that 131 of the 199 flights had been cancelled.
Unlike at other locations, there is no ban on night flights in Cologne/Bonn. At night, the airport is particularly important for DHL, UPS and Fedex cargo airlines. They are also affected by the warning strike - their pilots and cargoes must also pass the security checks. The willingness to strike in Cologne/Bonn is enormously high, said a Verdi spokesman. Shortly after the strike began at midnight, there was chaos at the control gates through which the trucks bring the cargo to the airport grounds. There was congestion all the way to the autobahn.
Early in the morning, the passenger control area was still for a time. A spokesperson for the airport said that because the airlines had informed passengers in advance about the strike and cancelled flights, many had not even come to the airport. “The terminals are considerably emptier than usual," the airport press office explained in the morning.
Airport has set up hotline
Besides the cancellations (69 departures and 62 arrivals), the spokesperson explained that there may still be flight delays after the strike has ended. He recommended that passengers contact their airlines to inform themselves on the status of their flights. The airport advises that passengers who will be coming to the airport for scheduled flights should arrive early and try to avoid hand luggage as much as possible. An airport hotline has been set up at: (02203/404000).
The passenger checkpoints in the terminals as well as the personnel and baggage checkpoints are affected by the strike. According to the airport association ADV, around 111,000 passengers are affected nationwide, 58,000 in Düsseldorf alone. With the call for a strike, Verdi is taking a harder line in the wage dispute. At the beginning of the week, a warning strike at Berlin Airports led to numerous flight cancellations. In Cologne/Bonn, 199 flights were scheduled for Thursday with an estimated 28,000 passengers. Most of them will now remain on the ground.
The dispute concerns private security personnel who inspect passengers, cargo, goods and airport employees. There are large regional differences in wages - according to employers, passenger inspectors in eastern Germany pay 14.70 euros per hour and in the west up to 17.16 euros per hour. Employees who are only responsible for freight and airport personnel receive less. Here the lower limit is 12.90 euros - that's how much is paid in Thuringia. In addition, there are supplements for Sunday shifts or night work.
Verdi demands wages of 20 euros per hour nationwide for the 23,000 or so employees working in flight safety. According to the employers, the Verdi demand means an increase in wages of up to 44 percent and is therefore "completely unrealistic". They say they offer an increase of up to 6.4 percent. According to Verdi, the warning strikes will last until midnight.
(Orig. text: Dominik Pieper (with material from dpa); Translation: ck)