Feb. 21 - Passengers were asked not to travel to Frankfurt airport on Friday, Europe's third-largest hub, as a strike by security staff over pay caused flight cancellations and delayed thousands of passengers. Joanna Partridge reports
It's the busiest day of the week for travellers. But few people were able to travel anywhere from Frankfurt airport on Friday. A strike by security staff brought chaos to Europe's third largest air hub. SOUNDBITE: MARKO AICELE, PASSENGER FROM FINLAND, SAYING (English): "I'm heading to Helsinki and now I've heard that all the security is closed, totally closed." SOUNDBITE: TIM OGER, PASSENGER FROM BRITAIN, SAYING (English): "Now we have to try and get the bags back. It seems they don't have a process for doing this. I should imagine there's lots of people trying to get their baggage back because they can't make flights. It's absolute chaos, not very impressive, not very German." At least 50 flights were cancelled and thousands of passengers delayed. The biggest problem was getting people checked in and through security. Frankfurt airport's spokesman Mike Schweitzer asked other travellers to stay at home. SOUNDBITE: FRANKFURT AIRPORT SPOKESPERSON, MIKE SCHWEITZER, SAYING (German): "We have much longer waiting times than usual, long queues are forming. That's why we've decided to currently ask all passengers to avoid coming to the airport until further notice, because we currently have very long waiting times and have to assume that passengers who are just arriving will not be get to their flights on time." Trade union Verdi had called for a strike by around 5000 workers who check passengers, luggage and freight at the airport. They want their pay brought into line with staff at other German airports. The strike was called after four rounds of pay talks failed. Verdi said more than 90% of staff due to work on Friday were taking part - but it let some briefly return to work to ease congestion at security checks. 150,000 passengers usually pass through Frankfurt airport on a typical Friday.