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Latest News - February 2012

February 26, 2012
Frankfurt Airport faces more strikes
Source: Global Post
By: Kirsten Bienk

FRANKFURT (MarketWatch) -- Passengers at the Frankfurt airport will face again flight cancellations and delays starting Sunday night after a labor union representing up to 3,500 workers said Saturday it will start fresh labor strikes at Germany's largest airport.

German labor union GdF, which is seeking higher wages and better conditions for just under 200 apron control and traffic operation workers, said Saturday it will ask its members to go on strike from Sunday at 2000 GMT until Thursday 0400 GMT.

Airport operator Fraport AG said the strike action is "excessive and incomprehensible." A spokesman for the airport operator said the union should withdraw its demand for a double-digit rise in salary and accept Fraport's "good offer."

Neither Fraport nor the union have made details of their positions public.

The renewed strike action follows a brief spell of negotiations between both sides at the end of last week, which ended with no deal and both sides appearing to be even more at loggerheads than before Friday.

The union had already staged a five-day strike at the Frankfurt airport until Wednesday night. The first wave of strikes led to the cancellation of some 1,200 flights, but failed to cripple operations completely at Germany's largest airport as Fraport had countered the walkout by deploying others employees to fulfill the duties of the operation center and apron workers.

As a consequence, Fraport had been able to limit the number of strike-related flight cancellations and operated up to 80% of the daily flights. All international and long-haul flights operated regularly and without restrictions. The airport operator reiterated Saturday it believes it will be able to conduct again more than 80% of flights even over a protracted strike period.

Frankfurt, with 53 million passengers annually, is Europe's third-largest airport operator behind London's Heathrow and Charles de Gaulle in Paris. The Frankfurt airport usually operates 1,400 flights per day. Fraport has said canceling 20% of scheduled flights incurs a cost of about EUR1 million ($1.35 million) a day.

Both sides are arguing about salaries and working conditions for around 190 employees at Fraport's traffic operation center as well as apron controllers and apron supervision staff. Earlier in February, Fraport rejected terms brokered by mediator Ole von Beust, the former mayor of the city of Hamburg.

Earlier Saturday, the union threatened to include other GdF members in the renewed strike action. Such a broadening of walkouts could undermine the airport operator's ability to limit the impact of strikes on flight operations. It wasn't immediately clear Saturday how many GdF members would participate in the labor strikes starting Sunday



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