With the start of the summer holidays in two northern German states, passengers at Hamburg Airport have to be patient. On Friday of all days, some of the employees went on a 24-hour warning strike.

At Hamburg Airport there were already long waiting times in front of the security checkpoints early on Friday morning. It was a busy travel day with 45,000 arrivals and departures, said a spokeswoman for Hamburg Airport. Due to the high volume, the airport opened the terminals at 3.15 a.m. and the check-in counters at 3.30 a.m.

Many families had already flown on vacation in the morning – according to the federal police, there were already waiting times of up to 60 minutes before the security checks at 4.30 a.m. In view of the personnel problems in air traffic, Hamburg Airport and the Federal Police have sworn travelers to long waiting times and asked them to help. “The situation is very tense” and there is “nothing nice to say about it,” said airport boss Michael Eggenschwiler at a press conference on Thursday. Air traffic is currently reaching its limits almost every day throughout Europe.

The summer holidays in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein begin on Monday. Passengers would have to be prepared for “certain waiting times”, said Eggenschwiler, but also asked the travelers to be well prepared. He recommends being at the airport two and a half hours before departure, or “a little bit earlier”, especially for flights at peak times around lunchtime and between 4pm and 6pm. Baggage should be checked in early. The airport boss also referred to online check-in.

At the beginning of the busiest day at Hamburg Airport since the beginning of the corona pandemic, the employees of a maintenance company also went on warning strike. The Verdi union has called on the approximately 180 employees of Real Estate Maintenance Hamburg (RMH), a subsidiary of the airport company, to a one-day work stoppage. The RMH employees are responsible, among other things, for the maintenance of the technology in the luggage transport.

No relief in sight

The Vice President of the Federal Police Headquarters in Hanover, Michael Schuol, said that many people had “forgotten how to fly” and appealed to travelers to check their hand luggage in advance for prohibited items and the specified amounts of liquid. It is also “not helpful” to take several pieces of hand luggage with you because of high baggage fees, then everything takes even longer.

Schuol dampened expectations of a short-term easing of the situation through foreign forces – that would “not go quite as quickly as you can see from the media”. On Wednesday, the government promised to make it easier for foreign aid workers to enter the country and “if necessary” to deploy more federal police.

Airlines and airports are particularly concerned about staff shortages. Flights are canceled and there are long queues at airports. Many jobs were cut during the corona pandemic, and there are currently many corona diseases. According to a study, there is currently a shortage of around 7,200 skilled workers at German airports.

The general manager of the Federal Association of the German Aviation Industry (BDL), Matthias von Randow, also referred to the circumstances of the corona pandemic. The plans for flights and staff for this summer were made in September – characterized by good experiences with travel last summer. Then the incidences in November and December because of the Omicron variant and travel warnings “went up massively” and the companies had to “slam on the brakes massively”.

In April and May of this year, demand then skyrocketed again – but the personnel adjustment could not take place so quickly, said von Randow. In addition, there is almost full employment on the German labor market. In addition, there would be bottlenecks in the airspace, among other things because of the Ukraine war. Therefore, initially planned capacities had to be reduced again.

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