Lufthansa and British trains amplify summer travel nightmare


The strike at the German airline leaves 134,000 travelers grounded in Frankfurt and Munich alone

The bad news for the wanderlust of millions of Europeans, after two years of closure due to the pandemic, was now reflected in the strikes at the German airline Lufthansa and on the British railways. About 1,100 flights have been canceled at the country’s two main airports, Frankfurt and Munich. About 134,000 passengers have been grounded in the midst of a summer season that seems determined to turn vacation plans into a nightmare.

In the German case, the dreaded endless queues at the counters of the affected airports did not occur. In addition to the near-total paralysis at the two airports mentioned, there were also partial shutdowns in other cities in the country, including Berlin.

Lufthansa already sent warnings to passengers about the ground crew strike on Tuesday. Various solutions were offered to the customer, from free exchange to cancellation or exchange for a train ticket, in the case of national routes. The warnings warned the traveler that there was no point in approaching the airport in question, as they would not find staff there to assist them. He was asked to use his website to move or file his claim.

Yes, there were complications for some passengers, mainly foreigners, who arrived in Frankfurt or Munich on connecting flights and without a visa. Many were left in no man’s land or a transit zone, unattended at check-in counters and often disregarding Lufthansa’s previous warnings, for traveling on shared flights with partner airlines. Frankfurt is the airport with the most passenger traffic on the continent and shares with Munich the condition of connecting hub to international destinations, including Spain.

Until now, Germany had been spared the major congestion British citizens experienced crossing Dover to France, with endless queues and hours of waiting for the Channel Tunnel. German airports are busy on peak days due to a shortage of ground staff. There are thousands of lost pieces of luggage waiting to be “reunited” with their owners in Frankfurt, with no means to expedite their return. And Lufthansa itself canceled thousands of flights at the start of the season due to staff shortages.

But there has been no chaos comparable to what has happened in Amsterdam or London, with overcrowded airports and airlines stopping ticketing because they are unable to accommodate so much travel demand.

The ground crew strike is a blot on a company that prides itself on being “serious” and struggling to survive against competition from low-cost airlines Ryanair or Easyjet, which caused their own chaos this summer with their successive strike campaigns. Lufthansa’s has been called by industry association Verdi, which is demanding a salary increase of 9.5% for the 20,000 employees of the ground staff -or at least 350 euros per month-. He justifies this request in the accumulated inflation since the last agreement and the damage the pandemic has done to the workforce. His claim coincides with warnings launched by several European airlines over staff shortages following the massive layoffs that caused the shutdown of public life and the near paralysis of air traffic at the height of the coronavirus.

The government of Olaf Scholz has activated a temporary recruitment plan for non-EU workers, mainly Turkish. But between its activation and its realization in reality, more than half of the short German summer will have passed.

The British citizen, better trained in the face of all sorts of breakdowns in his mobility, faced another rail strike this Wednesday. Only one in five trains ran. There was a total blackout on some sections of the track. The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), with 40,000 members, accuses the bosses of responding to their demands with threats. The employers respond that it is a “militant” and political strike. New strikes are announced for August 18 and 20, while a total shutdown of the London Underground is expected on August 19.

Source: La Verdad


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