Transport chaos takes grip in Europe with flights grounded at airports in France and Germany as staff walk out over pay disputes. German and French unions demand a six percent pay rise for workers.

Passengers arrive at the Air France check in at Nice airport as Air France pilots, cabin and ground crews unions call for a one-day strike over salaries in France, April 3, 2018.
Passengers arrive at the Air France check in at Nice airport as Air France pilots, cabin and ground crews unions call for a one-day strike over salaries in France, April 3, 2018. (Reuters)

Air France-KLM says that seven-day long strikes since February by workers demanding higher pay are set to cost it $209 million (170 million euros).

"The impact on Air France operating income of the seven days of strike between February 22 and April 11, 2018 is estimated around 170 million euros," the group said.

A passenger arrives at the Air France check-in at Bordeaux-Merignac airport, as Air France pilots, cabin and ground crews unions call for a strike over salaries in Merignac near Bordeaux, France April 7, 2018
A passenger arrives at the Air France check-in at Bordeaux-Merignac airport, as Air France pilots, cabin and ground crews unions call for a strike over salaries in Merignac near Bordeaux, France April 7, 2018 (Reuters)

The estimate was contained in a statement on the passenger numbers of Air France-KLM, which said they had increased by 5.4 percent in March.

The walkouts were set to continue on Tuesday and Wednesday for a total of seven days since the strikes began in February.

The industrial action at Air France, where the French government owns a minority stake, coincides with rolling strikes by workers at the state rail operator SNCF, as well as protests by students, public servants, energy workers and rubbish collectors.

TRT World's Lucy Taylor has the latest from Paris.

The SNCF said on Monday that the strikes against plans to overhaul the debt-laden company had already cost it around 100 million euros.

Although the various protests have different aims, they have created a general atmosphere of social discontent as President Emmanuel Macron pursues his ambitious reform drive.

Members of German public sector workers union Verdi stage a strike at the airport in demand for higher wages in Frankfurt, Germany April 10, 2018
Members of German public sector workers union Verdi stage a strike at the airport in demand for higher wages in Frankfurt, Germany April 10, 2018 (Reuters)

Public sector strikes hits Germany

In the neighbouring country of France, thousands of passengers at four German airports, including the biggest hub Frankfurt, were also stranded on Tuesday as ground staff and other public sector workers staged walkouts across the country to increase the pressure in a pay dispute.

Lufthansa said on Monday it was cancelling more than 800 of its planned 1,600 flights on Tuesday and Frankfurt airport operator Fraport has warned of disruption.

Members of German public sector workers union Verdi stage a strike at the airport in demand for higher wages in Frankfurt, Germany April 10, 2018.
Members of German public sector workers union Verdi stage a strike at the airport in demand for higher wages in Frankfurt, Germany April 10, 2018. (Reuters)

As well as Frankfurt, airports in Munich, Cologne and Bremen were hit. The industrial action also affected nurseries, rubbish collection services and swimming pools in several German states.

TRT World's Ira Spitzer has the latest from Berlin.

"We want to send a clear signal to employers with these massive strikes," Frank Bsirske, head of Verdi, Germany's biggest labour union for service sector employees, said.

"We expect an offer to be made for the third round of talks that is worthy of discussion so we can reach a good solution."

He said the union would escalate the dispute if employers did not present an offer next week. The third round of talks start on April 15.

Verdi has called for a 6 percent pay rise for its 2.3 million public sector employees at the federal and local level. 

Germany's federal government and municipalities have rejected that, saying such an increase would force them to outsource jobs.

Source: AFP