Cabin crew strike snarls Lufthansa's Frankfurt take-offs
Lufthansa flight attendants went on strike in a dispute over pay and working conditions, snarling most of the German airline's domestic departures from Frankfurt airport.
Europe's biggest airline initially cancelled a quarter of scheduled departures from Germany's largest airport, but as more and more flights ran late and jets failed to turn up, the delays spread.
The eight-hour stoppage, which was limited to Frankfurt departures, was set to finish at 1 pm (1100 GMT), the Ufo union said. Repeat strikes are expected if the dispute is not settled.
"Right now, a majority of our short- and mid-range flights and occasional inter-continental flights have been cancelled," a Lufthansa spokesman told dpa.
A spokesman for Ufo, which also picketed the terminal, claimed even greater disruption: "There's chaos here. They can't get their planes moving. Right now all flights are off."
Caroline Reichard, a German mother travelling to Rome with her 14-year-old daughter, was in tears as she stared at the signboard saying "cancelled" for her flight. "We were so looking forward to a few days away," she said.
Airports in other German cities said the strike had had far less effect on their traffic, with only a limited number of cancellations after planes failed to arrive.
Ufo said a majority of the airline's 19,000 flight attendants belong to the union. Non-members continued to work. Ufo picketers stood outside the main terminal at Frankfurt.
Lufthansa and the union have been in talks for 13 months. Flight attendants want a 5-per-cent pay rise and protection against the outsourcing of cabin jobs to contractors who pay lower rates.
The talks were reported to have broken down Tuesday. Lufthansa called on Ufo to return to the negotiating table.