Strike threat looms over ITB Berlin

BERLIN, 6 March 2017: Travel industry players heading to the world’s biggest tourism trade fair in Berlin, mid-week, may face delays at the capital’s two airports after ground staff voted in favour of strikes in a pay dispute.

The strike is not likely to get underway until after the Tuesday deadline set by the labour union.

Most visitors to ITB will already be in town by then, but  the strike could delay trade show delegates leaving Berlin on Friday if the dispute extends beyond a day or two.

According to Reuters, labour union Verdi said on Friday that 98.6% of balloted workers at Schoenefeld and Tegel airports were in favour of industrial action.

Verdi wants an increase in pay for ground staff to 12 euros an hour from about 11 euros as part of a one-year collective agreement. Workers have walked out several times in recent weeks, forcing the cancellation of more than 300 flights at the two airports .

Verdi says the employers have until Tuesday to improve their offer.

ITB starts on Wednesday and most trade visitors will arrive in Berlin, Tuesday, to attend the first business sessions of the world’s largest show on Wednesday morning.

If the strike persists to Friday it would cause considerable delays and chaos at the airports as thousands of travel trade executives and staff depart Berlin.

The show attracts around 120,000 trade visitors including tour operators, airline executives and tourism ministers from around the world.

Even without the strike, Berlin airports are congested as the worldwide travel industry descends on the city during the exhibition week that is packed with events and conferences on its sidelines.