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Berlin Airport Strike to Ground Hundreds of Flights on Wednesday

All departures and arrivals scheduled at Berlin Brandenburg Airport on January 25th are set to be disrupted due to a nationwide strike

by Fergus Cole

January 24, 2023

Berlin Brandenburg Airport / Photo: Markus Mainka/Adobe Stock.jpg

A nationwide strike by public workers in Germany will cause Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) to shut its doors entirely on Wednesday, January 25, causing hundreds of flights to be canceled.

An announcement was made by the airport’s operator Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH on Monday, January 23. It stated that around 300 departures and arrivals scheduled at the airport will be affected, and up to 35,000 passengers will have their travel plans disrupted.

“Due to the announced warning strike at Berlin Brandenburg Airport, no passenger flights will be possible on Wednesday, 25 January 2023,” said the operator in a statement. “The airport company officially informed its partners, such as the airlines, ground handling service providers, security companies and businesses located at the airport, about this in the evening.

Berlin Brandenburg BER Willy Brandt Airport Terminal 1 in Germany / Photo: Markus Mainka/Adobe Stock

“Around 300 take-offs and landings with just under 35,000 passengers were originally planned for this day. Affected passengers are asked to contact their airline for information on rebooking and alternative travel options.”

The nationwide strike on Wednesday will affect not only the aviation industry but a whole slate of federal and government workers. It was called by the workers’ trade union Verdi, which represents around two million public service employees in the country. The union claims that wide-scale staff shortages are creating a “tense atmosphere” between employers and employees, with many workers “being left alone with a growing mountain of tasks.”

Frank Werneke, Chairman of Verdi, said: “Personnel in public service of the federal and local governments are seething. Employers must know: the workforce will not be satisfied with warm words and a bad result in the collective bargaining round.”

The union is currently in talks with federal, state, and local governments, trying to negotiate better working contracts for its members. It is also attempting to secure better pay packages for its members, saying on Monday: “The reason for the strike is parallel pay negotiations, for which no solution has yet been found in all three areas.”

Berlin Brandenburg Airport is a relatively young airport, having only opened its doors on October 31, 2020, after more than nine years of delays. The development project began almost three decades ago, in 1996, but consecutive years of financial problems and rising costs had delayed the construction efforts. There were also reported flaws in the airport’s design, while a number of management changes didn’t help the situation. The airport was initially planned to open in 2012, but this was prevented following a safety-inspection failure just weeks earlier.

Once it opened its doors in 2020, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic had largely shut down the global aviation industry, further halting the success of the new airport. However, following the reopening of many international routes across the world, Berlin Brandenburg has seen huge growth in passenger numbers in recent months, although this has led to the staffing issues which helped spark tomorrow’s strike.