Strike Grounds Flights at Berlin Airport

All flights were canceled at Germany's Berlin-Brandenburg airport on Wednesday after employees in ground services, aviation security, and the airport company went on strike to press for higher wages.

Strike Grounds Flights at Berlin Airport
Image credit: Reuters

Facts

  • All flights were canceled at Germany's Berlin-Brandenburg airport on Wednesday after employees in ground services, aviation security, and the airport company went on strike to press for higher wages.
  • The Ver.di union called for the one-day work stoppage over what it said was insufficient progress during three parallel talks. Beginning at around 3:30 am, the strike halted 300 take-offs and landings, affecting nearly 35k passengers.
  • According to union representative Enrico Ruemker, the airport company had made a collective bargaining offer for the coming two years, under which salaries would increase by 3% on June 1 and by another 2% by May 1 of next year.
  • As German inflation rates have soared, the trade union is demanding a €500 ($540) per month hike in airport and ground handling service salaries over a 12-month collective bargaining contract.
  • Lufthansa Airlines chief Carsten Spohr called the work stoppage "'unusual," as Wednesday's strike is the first since 2018 to result in so many flight cancellations in Germany.
  • The Berlin-Brandenburg airport opened in 2020 after eight years of construction delays. According to its website, the airport handled more than 19M passengers in 2022, with its largest competitor, Frankfurt Airport, having handled almost 49M passengers last year.

Sources: US, Reuters, New York Post, BNNBloomberg, and DW

Narratives

  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Le Monde. Germany’s biggest trade union, ver.di, called the strike to add pressure as they continue the negotiations to secure a reasonable €500 per month average pay increase to ensure security and aircraft maintenance at the Airport. The demands are not exorbitant, as employees' salaries don't factor in the higher cost of living due to inflation.
  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Archive Today. Berlin Brandenburg isn't as important an air hub to Germany as Frankfurt or Munich Airports, but the strike action has prompted Berlin Brandenburg to cancel all of Wednesday's commercial flights, impacting hundreds of services and tens of thousands of passengers. Airport strikes are not uncommon in Europe, but this particular industrial action has been unnecessarily disruptive due to its short notice.