Thousands of workers from south-eastern Europe are supposed to alleviate the summer chaos at German airports. But not all the details of safety and social standards have been settled yet.

To deal with the chaos in air traffic, German airports and their ground service providers want to employ thousands of foreign workers directly.

The workers should come from Turkey and some Balkan countries for a limited period of up to three months, said the general manager of the airport association ADV, Ralph Beisel, on Monday of the German Press Agency. They would likely be employed directly by ground handling service providers. Models for hiring out employees would thus be off the table.

The federal government had signaled its approval of the industry plan at the weekend. However, a final decision in coordination with the Ministries of Labour, the Interior and Transport is still pending. In particular, it is about the waiver of the so-called priority check, whether domestic employees are not also available for the jobs.

Chaos in the terminals

At the weekend, there were again problems in the terminals of several airports at the start of the holiday season in the most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Due to a lack of staff, there were long waiting times at the passenger controls, and a lot of luggage was initially left behind. In Düsseldorf, even the airport fire brigade had to help, as several media reported. Major problems are also expected at the start of the holiday season in Hesse on July 23rd.

The ADV had put the total requirement of the airports, including check-in and air security checks, at around 5,500 workers for this summer. Time is running out. A personnel service provider from Istanbul has offered up to 2,000 workers for the loading services, which are particularly overloaded at the larger airports, according to industry circles. They would have prior airport experience and the appropriate documentation for quick background checks.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) had announced that she would not make any compromises in terms of security. The police union (GdP) supports the use of foreign helpers for luggage, but at the same time warns against extending the model to air security forces. It is not possible to recruit new staff quickly in this area, said the GdP chairman for the federal police, Andreas Roßkopf, of the “Rheinische Post” (Tuesday). “That would be fatal for security reasons. We are talking about people who have to be intensively checked and instructed in terms of safety. That takes a while.”

Shortly before the start of the main holiday season, numerous airlines had canceled flights. Lufthansa canceled a total of almost 3,000 flights at its Frankfurt and Munich hubs, also because more and more crews are calling in sick because of Corona cases. The low-cost subsidiary Eurowings also canceled hundreds of flights in July. At Berlin Airport alone, market leader Easyjet cut its program for the summer months by around 1,000 flights.