Volker Wissing: Minister of Transport: No quick improvement at airports

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    Stranded passengers, hundreds of canceled flights, delays: people want to travel again after the pandemic, but airports and airlines are short of staff. Is there a chaos summer?

    Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) does not expect the situation at the airports to improve anytime soon, with numerous flight cancellations and delays. “The situation in the European air traffic system is an enormous challenge for everyone,” said Wissing of the “Bild am Sonntag”.

    The shortage of skilled workers is increasingly affecting people’s everyday lives. Short-term solutions are unlikely. The CSU traffic expert Ulrich Lange criticized Wissing sharply: “He can’t just duck away with a shrug and leave people alone with the traffic chaos that the traffic lights are partly to blame for.”

    According to the deputy Verdi chairman Christine Behle, who is also deputy chairman of the supervisory board at Lufthansa, the situation will worsen. “Summer will be chaotic,” said Behle of the “Augsburger Allgemeine” (Monday). The cause is the forced European competition at the airports and the associated savings in personnel costs of 30 to 40 percent through outsourcing and tariff evasion. The lockdown at the airports during the corona pandemic also led to short-time work and layoffs at service providers, and employees also looked for other jobs. This staff is now massively lacking, when the number of bookings is increasing significantly again. “It will be dramatic,” warned Behle.

    Does the situation come as a surprise – or not?

    The chairwoman of the Association of Independent Travel Agencies (VUSR), Marija Linnhoff, described the conditions at German airports as “simply unbelievable”. The desire to travel is not surprising, but two years of downsizing are now taking revenge, she told the “Bild am Sonntag”. So close to the summer season, the worst must be expected.

    The airlines are defending themselves. “The governments decided at very short notice to lift the travel restrictions,” said Matthias von Randow, Managing Director of the Federal Association of the German Aviation Industry (BDL). Therefore, there was no reliable planning for the staffing for the resumption of traffic.

    For weeks there have been massive problems at Germany’s airports due to a lack of staff in the industry. Lufthansa alone wants to cancel 900 flights in Munich and Frankfurt in July. “The most important thing in this situation is that more staff is quickly recruited and services are provided by the airport companies themselves and the employees are employed there,” demanded trade unionist Behle.

    According to Verdi, the lack of staff in all service areas on the ground, such as security control, check-in and baggage handling, is particularly bad for the large airports such as Frankfurt, Hamburg, Berlin and Düsseldorf. Munich also lacks staff, but the situation there is better because the security personnel are not employed by a private company, but by a state-owned company that pays according to the public service tariff.