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Holiday travel: Flight chaos looms at Easter

Holiday travel : Flight chaos looms at Easter

Air passengers should expect long waiting times at Düsseldorf airport in the Easter holidays because of a lack of security personnel. The situation is more relaxed at Cologne/Bonn.

There could be long queues again at passenger and luggage checkpoints at Düsseldorf airport at the start of the Easter holidays. A confidential letter to staff dated 2 March 2018 from the security firm Kötter, seen by our editorial staff, indicates that 25 of the 100 additional security personnel are currently missing. “Due to the unexpectedly poor pass ratios in the tests, we will not reach this figure, but rather only 75,” the document states.

Officially, however, Kötter said there would be no problems. “We are well prepared for the upcoming Easter holiday traffic at Düsseldorf airport and are keeping our promise of a comprehensive increase in staffing,” explained Peter Lange, managing director of Kötter Aviation Security. Lange emphasised that the current lower number of successful applicants will not have any noticeable effects. However, NRW Transport Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU) described the situation at Düsseldorf airport as ominous. “It is the task of the federal police as contracting authority to demand the fulfilment of contractual obligations by the service provider,” Wüst told our editorial team.

By contrast, no major restrictions are expected at Cologne/Bonn airport. “We expect a completely normal holiday operation,” said press spokesman Alexander Weise when asked by the GA. However, he qualified: “It’s clear that during the holidays it can take a few minutes longer at the checks than otherwise.” Weise emphasised that he was not aware of any upcoming staffing problems at the security service provider Kötter.

The union Verdi, which represents the interests of security staff, also currently has no knowledge of any possible chaos at Cologne/Bonn airport. “The staffing problem there is not as great as in Düsseldorf,” said Verdi union secretary Özay Tarim. Kötter itself said: “Our company is well prepared for the Easter holiday traffic at Cologne/Bonn airport. The staffing pool is so extensive that we have been able to maintain a staff reserve there, which can increase the workforce at Düsseldorf airport if needed.”

Ernst Walter, federal chairman of the Federal Police Union, has been denouncing the problems with private security companies for years. “If the company already has a quarter too few staff then this will inevitably soon lead to unacceptable waiting times again for passengers,” said Walter. Verdi’s view is similar. “It is to be feared that conditions will be similar to those of 2017,” said Tarim.

However, there are still further bottlenecks ahead after the Easter holidays, especially in the summer and autumn. The reason is that the federal government is to block the airport’s proposed permanent commissioning of the second security company Klüh beyond the autumn, reported insiders. “Klüh will never train dozens of people for security controls if the contract expires again in the autumn,” said sources in the security industry.

(Original text: ga.de. Translation: kc)