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BERLIN

UPDATE: Berlin airport cancels all flights on Wednesday due to strike

All passenger flights were cancelled at Berlin Brandenburg airport (BER) on Wednesday, as staff walked out in a dispute over higher pay.

Travellers at Berlin's BER airport in December.
Travellers at Berlin's BER airport in December. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jörg Carstensen

Some 300 flights were either scrapped or rescheduled, the airport said, affecting around 35,000 passengers.

The day-long “warning strike” was called by the powerful Verdi union to ramp up pressure ahead of the next round of negotiations with bosses.

The union said it expected some 1,500 airport employees to take part in the walkout.

Verdi is pushing for a monthly salary increase of €500 over a 12-month period for ground crew. For security personnel, it wants higher bonus payments for weekend and holiday hours.

“Everyone knows about the exorbitantly higher prices, be it for food or at petrol stations,” Verdi representative Holger Roessler told German media. German inflation slowed to 8.6 percent in December after peaking at 10.4 percent in October, mainly thanks to government relief measures to cool energy costs.

Late last year, Germany’s biggest trade union IG Metall won an agreement for an 8.5-percent pay hike covering almost four million workers in industrial sectors after staging a series of warning strikes.

Under EU law, airline passengers are normally entitled to up to €600 in compensation if their flight is cancelled, overbooked, or delayed for more than three hours. However, this applies only if the airline is responsible for the flight’s delay or cancellation—not if someone else is, like the airport authority, as in this case.

Easyjet, one of the largest operators out of BER, says the airline will contact affected customers directly.

“While this is out of our control, we’re doing everything we can to minimise the inconvenience to our customers,” a company spokeswoman told regional newspaper Berliner Morgenpost.

“Affected customers have the option to rebook their flight or receive a refund. Hotel accommodation and meals are provided where required.”

Almost 20 million passengers passed through BER in 2022.

READ ALSO: What are your rights in Germany if your flight is delayed or cancelled?

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TRAVEL NEWS

New rail service planned through Norway, Sweden and Denmark to Hamburg

Plans for a new rail service running from Oslo and stopping in Gothenburg, Malmö and Copenhagen before arriving in Hamburg are in the works, Swedish state-owned rail operator SJ has said.

New rail service planned through Norway, Sweden and Denmark to Hamburg

Sweden’s state-owned SJ, along with Denmark’s DSB and DB of Germany, plans to offer a new international train line which runs between the Norwegian capital Oslo and Hamburg in northern Germany. 

The planned route would run daily, departing from Oslo at 8am before making stops in Gothenburg, Malmö and Copenhagen and arriving in Hamburg at 7pm. A service departing Hamburg and terminating in Gothenburg is also planned.

The 11 hour service would be quicker than the equivalent journey using either a car and ferry connection or existing train services. 

The planned service will enter into operation in 2027. Petter Essén, head of SJ’s vehicle and traffic programme, said the route made sense as it would connect a long stretch which doesn’t have continuous train traffic. 

“Today, there is a great deal of flying between Copenhagen and Oslo and between Oslo and Gothenburg, routes that would be fine by train,” Essén told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter

Currently, the only direct trains from the Norwegian capital to other countries are services to Gothenburg and Stockholm. 

The European Commission has selected the potential line as one of ten pilot projects that will receive support. This does not mean it will receive direct funding from the EU, but it will get backing on regulations and logistics, Essén explained.

“You can get help with various regulations and the process of getting all vehicles approved in all countries,” he said.

Generally, many Swedish and Norwegian trains can only operate within Sweden and Norway, while the majority of Danish and German trains are not cleared to run in Sweden in Norway. 

The Snälltåget line between Stockholm and Berlin has also been selected to receive support from the European Commission. 

SJ also announced plans to increase the number of trains between Gothenburg and Malmö to ten per day and offer the Gothenburg-Copenhagen service all year round. It said that these plans could come to fruition by 2026 or 2027. 

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