Holidaymakers in Germany are suffering post-Christmas travel chaos today after around 200 flights were cancelled on Monday due to cabin crew strikes.
Disruption will run from Monday to Wednesday this week owing to the walkout by staff of Lufthansa’s budget airline Germanwings. The Ufo labour union announced the action on Friday, saying little progress had been made in wage talks with Lufthansa’s management.
Around 15 per cent of Eurowings flights have had to be cancelled, a Lufthansa spokeswoman said on Monday. Addressing reporters at the Cologne-Bonn airport, a spokesman for Ufo said: “First 35 flights were cancelled, then 54, now 170, meaning that Germanwings will only manage 7 per cent of its original flight operations today.
“That should be a sign for Lufthansa group. Your employees are really angry. You finally have to change something.”
The majority of the cancelled flights were domestic, according to the Eurowings website. Stranded passengers were offered train tickets to their destinations or given a seat on flights operated by other Lufthansa airlines.
Some passengers said that while they were sympathetic with the cabin crews’ grievances, they found the timing – in the middle of the holiday season – ill-judged.
“I am from France and it is worse there. I am in favour of workers expressing themselves, but I am not sure if the time is right,” said said Celine Guiakam, a passenger at Cologne-Bonn airport. However, a spokesman for Eurowings said strikes were regrettable, no matter what the time of year.
“There is no good time for strikes,” they said. “Every strike and every delay is one too many and in so far we regret that it has to happen at all.
The deadlocked collective bargaining dispute for the 22,000 cabin employees concerns pay and working conditions among other issues. The disruption will have far reaching effects for German residents on the Costa del Sol and for their families who had booked with those airlines hoping to celebrate New Year together.
Ufo held a strike for two days in November, resulting in the cancellation of one in five flights, affecting around 180,000 passengers and costing the airline around £12.8 million (€10-20 million).