Travel to and from Greece used to be a lottery – if an air traffic controllers’ strike didn’t get you, you might get stranded by a ferry strike or hit by a baggage-loaders strike on the way home. Strikes, often only for a few hours, were simply a matter of normal life. Greece is still capable of throwing the occasional general strike, but, since the crisis, it has to be said that travel in Greece is much smoother and your chances of getting where you need to go to on time are pretty good.
Unfortunately, Germany, is a very different issue. For almost two years, Lufthansa suffered a series of occasional strikes by staff as it tried to bring in new agreements. That issue appears to have been solved for the moment – though there are more cut-backs on the horizon so who knows what might happen. Last year also saw a prolonged strike by ground staff at Frankfurt which more or less closed the airport for several days. There were also a number of minor strikes at other airports. So far this year, there has been a strike of security staff at Hamburg and today a strike of airport workers at Dusseldorf and Cologne which has led to most flights being cancelled. These strikes get virtually no coverage in the UK.
It might be hard to believe but Germany is rapidly becoming Europe’s worst country for aviation-related strikes.
And, if the Greeks really want to rub it in, they could remind their German banking friends that at least they managed to open the very efficient new airport in Athens on time for the Greek Olympics. The management of the new airport in Berlin cannot even come up with a definitive date for when the much-delayed building will open.