Over 1,000 Lufthansa flights were canceled on Wednesday due to a one-day strike by the airline’s German ground crew, affecting tens of thousands of customers in Europe’s latest travel chaos.
The strike at Lufthansa began at 3:45 a.m. local time Wednesday and was scheduled to end at 6 a.m. Thursday.
Approximately 134,000 travelers were forced to change or cancel their travel plans. According to the German news agency dpa, at least 47 connections were canceled on Tuesday.
Flights were canceled in Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Berlin, Bremen, Hanover, Stuttgart and Cologne, as well as at Lufthansa’s main bases in Frankfurt and Munich.
The airline urged concerned travelers not to go to the airports, saying most service counters would be closed. Airport terminals were unusually quiet in the early morning hours, although customers later queued at ticket counters to find replacements for their canceled flights, dpa reported.
Many of the stranded travelers had landed in Germany from other countries to find that their connecting flights had been canceled because of the strike.
According to a representative of airport operator Fraport, 725 of the 1,160 scheduled flights at Frankfurt Airport were canceled for the day. Flights operated by other airlines, which are usually serviced by Lufthansa ground staff, were also affected, according to dpa.
Flights operated by Lufthansa Group subsidiaries such as Swiss International Air Lines, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Air Dolomiti in Italy were also canceled. In addition, aircraft operated by Croatia Airlines, United Airlines, Air Canada and the Polish airline LOT were also unable to take off, according to dpa.
The Verdi’s service union had launched the strike on Monday to put pressure on Lufthansa in collective bargaining for the airline’s approximately 20,000 employees in logistics, technical and cargo departments.
“Lufthansa did not make an adequate offer in the first two rounds” of negotiations, a union spokesperson, Dennis Dacke, said Wednesday.
“It is time for the employees to express their opinion now before the third round of negotiations,” Dacke said. “This is a ‘warning strike,’ and the effects are visible. We hope that Lufthansa will not provoke another one in the future.”
The strikes, according to Lufthansa spokesman Martin Leutke, are damaging.
“People who wanted to travel, who planned vacations for a long time, who waited for vacations, had these vacation dreams unfortunately postponed … maybe even destroyed by the strike,” Leutke told reporters in Frankfurt. “This strike is completely unnecessary. It is also completely exaggerated.”
Airports in Germany and across Europe have already experienced disruptions and long queues at security checkpoints due to staff shortages and increased demand for travelers.