BERLIN, March 17 (Xinhua) -- The recent wave of strikes by public sector employees and by airport security staff at four airports have "massively restricted" air traffic in the western and southern parts of Germany, the German Airports Association (ADV) said on Friday.
A total of 583 flights had to be canceled at the two largest western German airports, Dusseldorf and Cologne, and at Stuttgart and Karlsruhe in the south, according to ADV. More than 76,000 passengers were affected.
In Dusseldorf, two-thirds of the 391 planned departures and arrivals were canceled, and in Cologne, almost all flights were, while there were no regular operations at all in Stuttgart, the capital of the federal state of Baden-Wuerttemberg. Passengers at Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden airport were only told to prepare for delays.
Public sector employees are demanding 10.5 percent more pay, but at least an increase of 500 euros (530 U.S. dollars) a month. The employers' offer, however, only includes a 5 percent wage increase in two stages and a tax-free one-off payment of 2,500 euros.
All-day strikes have already paralyzed German air traffic on several occasions in recent weeks. "The limit has been reached. The duration and scope of the strikes are disproportionate and go beyond the dimensions of a warning strike," ADV Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ralph Beisel told Xinhua on Friday.
"Such walkouts bring massive consequential problems," he warned. "The fact that airlines and airports are just recovering from the deepest crisis in aviation is completely ignored."
After passengers returned in the summer of 2022 as COVID-19 measures were being relaxed, understaffing caused flight chaos in Europe with thousands of cancellations.
Germany's largest airport, Frankfurt, has still not fully recovered from the pandemic. Last year, the hub's 48.9 million passengers fell 30.7 percent short of its 2019 pre-crisis level, according to operator Fraport.
For the current year, the "primary goal is to maintain stable operations and enhance our resilience in responding to irregular situations," Fraport CEO Stefan Schulte said on Tuesday. (1 euro = 1.06 U.S. dollar) ■