German minister urges Air Berlin pilots to drop walkout

BERLIN (AP) – Germany’s transport minister is appealing to pilots at bankrupt Air Berlin to abandon an apparent wildcat strike that has caused two days of disruption.

The ailing carrier was forced to cancel more than 100 flights Tuesday, causing chaos at several German airports, after 200 pilots called in sick at short notice.

At least 32 were cancelled yesterday, though Air Berlin said more pilots were returning.

Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said the pilots’ action was counterproductive as the airline seeks a buyer. He added, “I can only appeal to everyone to show sense and let flights take place.”

Germany’s second-biggest airline declared bankruptcy last month following years of losses and the decision of its biggest shareholder, Gulf airline Etihad, to cease financing.

Bids for Air Berlin must be submitted by tomorrow.

Airplanes of Air Berlin parked at the airport in Duesseldorf, western Germany when the airline cancelled dozens of flights. – AP