Strike action at Frankfurt’s airport, Europe’s third-busiest, was suspended on Wednesday, bringing relief to Lufthansa, the German airline, and Fraport, the airport’s operator.

The GdF airport workers’ union said strike action that had been scheduled to last until late on Friday would instead end on Wednesday evening, paving the way for fresh talks with Fraport.

GdF is demanding pay increases of up to 50 per cent for about 200 airside staff responsible for guiding aircraft in and out of parking positions and driving “follow me” vehicles. The opening of a fourth runway at Frankfurt has increased the demands on its members, GdF says, but Fraport has dismissed its demands as unacceptably high.

The trade union’s action started late last week, causing widespread disruption for travellers. Earlier on Wednesday, Lufthansa, Europe’s largest airline by revenues, said the strike had resulted in lost revenues running into the high double-digit million euros. But countermeasures taken by Fraport and Lufthansa, including redeploying staff employed elsewhere in the airport, had steadily reduced flight cancellations.

Before GdF’s lifting of the strike, both Fraport and Lufthansa said they had been operating more than 80 per cent of services. Lufthansa’s long-haul operations were unaffected.

Stefan Schulte, Fraport’s chief executive, said talks with GdF would take place on Thursday. The strike had become one of the bitterest in Germany in recent years, highlighting the emerging strength of trade unions representing small groups of workers in key jobs.

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