Those who started their vacation by plane on Saturday needed a lot of time again – and strong nerves: there were long queues. The streets were initially relatively relaxed.
On the unofficial first day of school holidays in North Rhine-Westphalia, the forecasts were initially confirmed: while it was initially quiet on the motorways on Saturday, there was a very heavy rush at the country’s largest airport in Düsseldorf, as a spokesman said.
Travelers told a dpa reporter that they had been waiting there for five hours. They arrived extra early. There was also trouble with the airport’s luggage transport system, which showed its vulnerable side just at the start of the holiday.
After a disruption on Friday, there was another disruption in part of the system on Saturday, said Düsseldorf Airport. “Therefore, it cannot be ruled out that luggage will be left behind in Düsseldorf today,” it said. The airlines would forward this as soon as possible. We regret the inconvenience caused to travelers.
Flights canceled at short notice also caused frustration among travelers. Several airlines have repeatedly canceled numerous flights in the past few days because of the significant staff shortages due to the corona virus. Nine flights were canceled at Düsseldorf Airport by noon on Saturday – eight of them from Eurowings and Lufthansa.
No problems at the security checks
On the other hand, the security checks, which were often the critical point in the past few weeks, were unproblematic. “We have to wait 10 to 15 minutes in Düsseldorf and are very satisfied with it,” said a spokesman for the federal police.
The Federal Police was able to hire a second service provider to provide support just in time. The main service provider also recruited additional support staff.
It’s different at Cologne/Bonn Airport: “There we have waiting times of 60 to 90 minutes at the security checkpoints,” said the spokesman. This is due to sickness-related staff shortages “in the three-digit range”. “You can’t compensate for that anymore.”
Already on Friday – the last day of school – there were long queues at the security controls and check-in counters at Cologne/Bonn and Düsseldorf airports.
Numerous flights canceled
Several airlines have had to cancel numerous flights over the past few days because of the significant staff shortages due to the corona virus. Nine flights were canceled at Düsseldorf Airport by noon on Saturday – eight of them from Eurowings and Lufthansa.
Since many people fly back on vacation after the forced break caused by the corona, the car is losing some of its importance for the journey compared to the past two corona years, the ADAC had analyzed in advance. In addition, not everyone would leave immediately in the first few weeks. Travel is more likely to be spread over the entire summer vacation.
Unusually quiet on the freeways
In fact, the big wave of travel on the motorways in North Rhine-Westphalia did not last until the afternoon on Saturday. “For the fact that it’s the start of the summer holidays, it’s unusually quiet on the highways,” said a spokesman for the state police control center.
The morning was – unusual for NRW – remained almost traffic jam-free. “Currently you don’t feel anything from holiday travel,” said an ADAC spokesman. Around 12:00 p.m., traffic was backed up for only five kilometers. On Friday afternoon, according to the ADAC, the length of the traffic jam in the country was almost 200 kilometers at its peak.
Deutsche Bahn, on the other hand, recorded increased travel at the start of the holiday season on Saturday in NRW. A spokesman said it was busier than normal weekends. The railways had already warned in advance that there could be high capacity utilization this weekend due to the increased number of passengers, especially in regional traffic.
38,000 passengers a day
Cologne/Bonn Airport is expecting around 115,000 passengers on the first holiday weekend, i.e. around 38,000 passengers a day. Düsseldorf Airport expects over 200,000 passengers this weekend.
North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous state, was the first of the 16 German federal states to start the summer holidays on Friday with the last day of school. The coastal states of Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania will follow a week later, followed by Hamburg, Berlin and Brandenburg on Wednesday (July 6th). The last are the southern states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria – at the end of July and August 1st respectively.