SWISS planes forced to fly empty, thanks to German airport strike

SWISS planes forced to fly empty, thanks to German airport strike

Flag-carrier airline SWISS has confirmed that it has been forced to fly its planes home from Germany empty on March 14, leaving thousands of passengers stranded in the federal republic. Around 1.800 passengers are affected by the incident, which was caused by the latest in a number of strikes held by security staff at German airports.

Impromptu strike held at eight German airports

Late on Wednesday, trade union ver.di announced that security staff at five German airports would be walking out on March 14, with workers at a further three airports striking on March 15. The sudden nature of the announcement is in line with the union’s new policy of ignoring the rule that states that strike action must be announced at least 48 hours in advance.

Staff at airports in Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, Karlsruhe / Baden-Baden and Stuttgart will strike on March 14, with employees in Dresden, Hanover and Leipzig following suit on March 15. As with most strikes in Germany at the moment, the strike has been brought about by union demands for higher salaries and shorter working hours - demands that are yet to be met by a majority of German employers.

During the strike days, up to 25.000 air security personnel will be on strike. While travellers from Switzerland will be able to fly to Germany with no incident during the strike days, those due to fly from the affected airports will have their flights cancelled.

SWISS forced to fly planes back empty

The short-notice nature of the strike has produced a logistical headache for flag carrier airline SWISS, who will still fly passengers to the affected airports on the strike days, but will have to fly the planes back empty. According to Watson, 16 SWISS services are affected on March 14: eight from Berlin to Zurich, five from Hamburg to Zurich and three from Stuttgart to Zurich - it remains unclear how many flights will be impacted on March 15.

This means that around 1.800 passengers will be forced to watch their planes take off without them. A spokesperson for SWISS confirmed that all affected passengers will be “proactively transferred to flights at a later date.” “The company asks all passengers to check the status of their flight on our website in time” and before they head to the airport, they continued.

Few signs of compromise between German unions and employers

Unfortunately for travellers, there are no signs that the German unions or businesses will relent in the short term, with ver.di asserting in a statement that aviation employers must “present a significantly improved offer” before they would consider a compromise. The sixth attempt at reaching an accord will take place on March 20.

Thumb image credit: servickuz /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

Read more



Leave a comment