Few Americans affected by work stoppages so far
Stars and Stripes March 6, 2008
STUTTGART, Germany — Travelers connected with the U.S. military in Germany are being advised to check with airlines and local transit to see if their plans are affected by sporadic strikes in the country.
The strikes Wednesday morning by some Lufthansa workers in Frankfurt and Munich each lasted several hours. Flights were temporarily scuttled in Germany but the strikes had minimal effect on U.S. travelers, according to Birgit Freyler of RTT Destinations at Ramstein Air Base.
Americans for whom she books flights generally fly on U.S. carriers such as Delta and US Airways, which were not affected, Freyler said. The Lufthansa strikes affected only domestic flights and not international ones, according to Lufthansa’s Web site.
Freyler said that the slow travel season also resulted in fewer headaches for U.S. travelers than if workers had been striking during spring break, for example.
“We cannot make a big alert out of it because we have few customers flying out today or in the next (potential strike) time frame,” Freyler said.
“Plus, our customers are usually booking on short notice due to the military nature of their flights,” adding that she would advise customers of strikes that could affect their travel plans.
SATO Travel, which books flights for military travel, were providing clients with the phone numbers of affected airports, according to a travel agent who answered SATO’s toll-free number. Clients were advised to call the airports for the status of specific flights.
Lufthansa canceled 300 of its 1,850 flights on Wednesday. About 18,500 passengers were affected, according to a posting on the airline’s Web site. Most, according to the posting, were rebooked on other flights or found other ways to get where they were going.
About 1.3 million public service workers in Germany, members of the Ver.di union, are threatening prolonged strikes and demanding an 8 percent pay raise. The union is offering 5 percent.
Members of other unions, such as the airline workers, are staging short job walk-offs in support of the larger labor dispute.
In Stuttgart, operators of all its buses and most of its local and regional trains are scheduled to strike for 24 hours starting at 3:15 a.m. Thursday. Other unionized workers, such as health care workers and city employees, are also being asked by Ver.di to support its grievances by performing work stoppages.
Freyler recommended that U.S. travelers in Germany check local news reports and the Web sites of local bus and train operations for information on local public transport stoppages.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.