Are bad working conditions at airports the cause of the chaos in air traffic? Even an FDP minister warns the companies.

Because of the chaos in European air traffic, the industry’s working conditions have come under scrutiny.

In an interview with Bild TV, Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing spoke out in favor of appropriate payment. However, this is a matter for the company. There is “no way to shape these employment contracts now from a political point of view,” said the FDP politician. “But it is also clear that we must keep these jobs attractive if we as a society do not want to have such problems permanently.”

Lots of flight cancellations and delays

Across Europe, flights are canceled or delayed in large numbers. In addition to the surprisingly high demand, the industry cites the lack of expert staff as the reason. During the Corona crisis, airports, airlines and service providers cut staff and also lost specialists who were looking for jobs in other sectors. Comparatively low salaries are paid, particularly in ground handling services and in the cabin.

From the point of view of the left, air traffic can only be brought back on track with higher wages and better conditions. “If you want to fight the chaos, then that means good working conditions for the employees, then that means collective bargaining, no more temporary work and temporary employment, because that’s the only way to win back employees,” said party leader Janine Wissler.

Workers from abroad no solution

Recruiting workers abroad, which the federal government is pushing, is not a solution, she added. The staff would have to be checked first, which would take weeks. In the short term, these people could not be hired. Wissler emphasized that security tasks such as airport controls should remain in the hands of the state and not be given to private companies. She referred to Bavaria, which had founded a security company for this. That is “a very good example”.

The airport association ADV rejected the allegations of low pay. “In the area of ​​aviation security, wages have doubled in recent years and are well above the statutory minimum wage,” explained General Manager Ralph Beisel. In the case of ground handling and loading services, airports and private employers are about to conclude an industry collective agreement with the unions that will ensure uniform and fair payment for all wage groups. According to ADV, the airports lack up to 20 percent of the staff in the operational areas. Lufthansa board member Harry Hohmeister said the system problems had to be addressed in many different places.

The situation in travel agencies is also tense

The situation is also tense in travel agencies. In view of flight cancellations and delays, the travel agency association VUSR is demanding compensation for the additional work involved in sales. The travel agencies did “the hard work for the industry and so far free of charge,” said the chairwoman of the Association of Independent Self-employed Travel Agencies (VUSR), Marija Linnhoff, recently to the industry portal “Reise vor 9”.

The airlines have been selling flights for months that they are now canceling because they have no staff, Linnhoff said. The shortage of skilled workers has been known for a long time. The stationary sales therefore expect that the airlines will sit down with all those affected to find a solution that will replace the additional work for the travel agencies. “Otherwise, if in doubt, we would have to consider suing for this remuneration for our members,” said Linnhoff.