Union to halt Frankfurt airport strike

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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — A strike at Frankfurt airport that has led to hundreds of flight cancellations is being halted ahead of new talks aimed at defusing a bitter pay dispute, a union said Wednesday.

The strike at Europe's third busiest airport "will be halted with the beginning of the night shift" Wednesday, said Matthias Maas, a spokesman for the GdF union.

But the action provided no immediate relief for travelers as 174 more flights were scratched Wednesday. Workers were expected to return starting from 9 p.m. (2000 GMT; 3 p.m. EST).

Maas said negotiations could restart as soon as Thursday. The union had planned to continue the strike by 200 workers through Friday to press its demands for more pay from airport operator Fraport AG.

Fraport spokesman Robert Payne said the union "has responded positively to our offer to return to the negotiating table" but could not say when talks would resume.

The strikes, which began last week, already have led to the cancellation of hundreds of flights and delays at the airport, which normally sees some 1,300 takeoffs and landings daily.

Long-haul traffic to Asia and across the Atlantic continued and the airport operated most of its flights, with some delays.

Germany's largest airline, Lufthansa, which uses Frankfurt airport as its main hub, had canceled 235 flights from early Wednesday through early Friday.

Lufthansa welcomed the union's decision and said it would try to get its service back to normal as quickly as possible.

However, it said in a statement that there would still be cancelations later Wednesday and Thursday "for operational reasons."

Fraport says GdF's demands for double-digit wage increases are "absolutely unacceptable," while the union says it just wants the Frankfurt workers' salaries brought in line with what other airports pay.

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