Tens of thousands of passengers were grounded on Thursday as airport security staff across Germany staged a walkout, the latest industrial action to plague Europe's biggest economy.

At least 1,100 flights were cancelled in 11 airports, including the country's busiest Frankfurt, and in capital Berlin, said the federation of German airports ADV.

At Frankfurt airport, 310 out of 1,120 arrival and departing flights were scrapped and other cancellations could be announced in the course of the day, a spokesman from operator Fraport told AFP.

Berlin airport said there would be no flights departing on Thursday from the terminals which usually serve about 50,000 passengers on average daily.

Other airports affected by the walkout called by union Verdi included Hamburg, Bremen, Hanover, Cologne, Duesseldorf, Leipzig, Dresden, Erfurt and Stuttgart.

"The strike began well" with a "good to very good" level of participation, said Wolfgang Pieper, who is in charge of salary negotiations at Verdi.

The union wants hourly wage raised by 2.80 euros ($3.02) as well as higher compensation for overtime.

Defending the walkout, Verdi boss Frank Werneke said the working conditions in these areas are "so catastrophic that people want some relief."

Negotiations will continue next week.

Germany has been hit by a wave of strikes in recent weeks.

Last week, train drivers staged a five-day walkout, their longest ever and the fourth time they have gone on strike since November.

Verdi has called a public transport strike across the country for Friday, which will bring buses, trams and underground services to a standstill.