European Air Travel Is at Risk as German, French Workers Threaten Walkouts

A decision on the Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH filing, which says the planned strike over pay would be “disproportionate and illegal,” will be reached today at a German labor court hearing starting at 4 p.m., court official Markus Guenther said.

Germany’s Gewerkschaft der Flugsicherung union has asked 3,400 controllers to walk out between 6 a.m. and noon after rejecting revised wage proposals from DFS. A strike would come at the height of the summer season and Air Berlin Plc (AB1), Germany’s biggest discount carrier and the No. 3 in Europe, said it will “fly until the very last minute” to avoid scrapping services.

“We don’t as yet plan to cancel any flights,” Melanie Schyja, a spokeswoman for the Berlin-based airline, said today. “If the strike goes ahead we will delay flights if possible and only cancel them if there’s no alternative.”

Skeleton Crews

Fraport AG, operator of Frankfurt airport, Europe’s third- busiest, said it’s currently planning for business as usual.

“When we have concrete, factual information then we will act on that accordingly,” spokesman Roy Watson said.

In the event of a walkout, DFS will ask unions to provide skeleton crews to allow emergency and military flights to continue operating, according to Christine Alig, a member of the state-owned company’s advisory council.

DFS, based in Langen, near Frankfurt, operates five air- navigation centers and control towers at 16 international airports and nine regional bases.

Air France said today that some flights may suffer long delays and advised passengers to check times on its website as maintenance workers extend industrial action over pay.

The rolling strike, which began in June, may cause flights to be rescheduled, with overnight delays possible, spokeswoman Constance Meyenberg said, adding that as many as 100 of 2,500 mechanics based at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport are involved.

The unit of Air France-KLM (AF) Group, Europe’s biggest airline, does not log dropped flights as terminated when they are carried out the next day, and said it expects no cancellations from the strike. Air France scrapped 4.4 percent of flights last weekend because of a separate pilot walkout that ended Aug. 1.


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