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Berlinale: Airport Strikes in Berlin Cause Headaches on Eve of Festival

BERLIN – Visitors hoping to land in the German capital ahead of the start of the Berlin International Film Festival may have to wait a day after a six-hour strike Wednesday by ground personnel at the city’s Tegel and Schoenefeld airports resulted in the cancellation of 137 flights.

The industrial action affected both arrivals and departures, with Tegel canceling 115 flights and Schönefeld 22, Daniel Tolksdorf, a spokesman for Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg (FBB), the company that operates both airports, told the Berlin newspaper Tagesspiegel.

Among the airlines directly affected were nearly all flights operated by Lufthansa, Air Berlin, Germanwings and Eurowings.

FBB warned passengers on its website that, although the six-hour strike over pay had concluded, “due to delays and flight cancellations…there are continued disruptions to air traffic. We strongly advise all passengers to consult their airline on their flight’s status before departure.”

Airlines also sought to notify passengers of the delayed and canceled flights.

Tolksdorf played down the impact of the picketing employees. “As a result of good information yesterday and today, many passengers didn’t even bother to go the airports. Major chaos was averted.”

While the strike was limited to between 5am and 11am, delays were expected throughout Wednesday.

Ground personnel, who include aircraft loaders as well as check-in and baggage handling staff, also went on strike at Hamburg Airport.

German trade union Verdi, which represents the workers, is seeking a pay raise from around 11 euros ($11.75) to 12 euros ($12.80) an hour, according to Reuters.

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