Friday Feb 17, 201202:35 AM GMT
200 Frankfurt airport employees on strike over pay
A display shows cancelled flights due to a strike of airport employees at the airport in Frankfurt, western Germany, on February 16, 2012.
Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:34AM
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About two hundred workers at Frankfurt airport in Germany have gone on strike over a salary dispute, causing flight cancellations and Europe-wide air travel disruptions.

On Thursday, apron controllers -- who direct aircraft in and out of their parking positions -- stopped work at 3:00 p.m. (1400 GMT) in Europe's third-busiest airport.

The wage dispute centers on around 200 personnel. Germany's GdF labor union called for strikes after Fraport, the company which owns and operates the airport, turned down mediation proposals in their dispute.

The union says that apron controllers' pay needed to reflect extra complexity resulting from the recent opening of a fourth runway at the airport.

The workers will also be on strike on Friday from 8:00 am until 10:00 pm (0700-2100 GMT) to pile up pressure on Fraport.

Fraport denounced the strike as "irresponsible" and "incomprehensible" and the industry federation BDL also termed it as "unacceptable.”

"Our contingency plans for tomorrow are ready and we've sufficient personnel to handle more than 50 percent -- at the very least -- of flight operations," Fraport board member Peter Schmitz told reporters.

"And I'm optimistic that, following the learning curve that our employees surmounted today, we'll succeed again tomorrow," he added.

A Fraport spokesman has called on passengers to contact airlines directly, since it was mainly their responsibility to force a decision on which flights would take off or land.

German flagship carrier Deutsche Lufthansa said it had cancelled 100 flights out of a total 316 taking off or landing on Thursday. The carrier also stated that 250 flights are likely to be cancelled on Friday.


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