Needle eye security check? Long queues again at Cologne/Bonn and Düsseldorf airports

Cologne/Bonn · On Monday evening, there were again long queues at the security checks at Cologne/Bonn Airport. The reasons for the waiting times are manifold, as the Federal Police explain.

  Passengers queue up in a long line for the security check at Cologne/Bonn airport at the weekend.

Passengers queue up in a long line for the security check at Cologne/Bonn airport at the weekend.

Foto: dpa/Thomas Banneyer

A video posted by a passenger on the Internet shows a queue stretching through several sections of Cologne/Bonn Airport. There is talk of four hours of waiting time. Other users write below that they missed their flight because of it. Once again, the check-in at the security checkpoints is said to be to blame.

Passengers at Düsseldorf Airport have once again been put to the test of patience. In the area of the aviation security check, there was a waiting time of up to 50 minutes during the peak on Tuesday morning, the Federal Police announced on request. Passengers affected reported early in the morning between 6 and 7 a.m. that they had waited up to one and a half hours in front of the security check.

Cologne/Bonn Airport confirmed and appeased: Yes, there had been waiting times, but everything had proceeded calmly and orderly. By 7 p.m., the queues had become shorter again.

Long queues at Cologne/Bonn Airport: Various reasons

The organisation of security checks is the responsibility of the Federal Police. Their spokesman for NRW, Jens Flören, clearly states that not only the staff situation is a big problem: "It is almost impossible any longer to reliably forecast the passenger volume." Before Corona, there would have been annual, half-yearly and monthly forecasts on which service providers could have relied. This changed completely with the pandemic, travellers decided to book flights so spontaneously and at such short notice that all staff planning was thrown off course. In April, for example, there were 100,000 more passengers at Cologne/Bonn Airport than had previously been forecast.

As far as the sheer number of employees of the service provider Securitas is concerned, it is at about the same level as before the pandemic, says Flören. The high level of sick leave nevertheless makes normal operations impossible. "If about 100 employees are already sick and then another 30, 40, 50 sick calls come in the morning, you can try to plan whatever you want," says Flören, but it won’t be any good on the day. This is becoming more and more important.

According to Flören, there is a second dynamic: out of fear of missing their flight, "many passengers come to the airport five or six hours before departure". These in turn lengthen the queues in which travellers wait for a flight in perhaps only one hour. "At peak times, for example at the beginning of the holidays, we had 11,000 passengers in just three hours," says Flören. So getting to the airport too early is not a solution either.

In addition to the staffing approach, other reasons cited by the Federal Police include passenger information, preparing passengers for the flight, but also the allocation of too many flight slots at peak times. "In addition, the carrying of hand luggage and liquids is regrettably still a circumstance that massively inhibits the process flows in the security checkpoints." The Federal Police recommended passengers to take only those items on board that would be absolutely necessary during the flight.

According to Düsseldorf Airport, a total of 48,000 passengers were expected at the airport on Tuesday - 9,000 fewer than on Monday. On Saturday, the third weekend of the summer holidays, the airport expects 57,000 travellers and on Sunday 61,000.

Last weekend, the situation at the airports in North Rhine-Westphalia initially eased. Travellers had to put up with considerably shorter waiting times at security checks in Düsseldorf on Saturday and Sunday than a week earlier.

Original text: (dpa/ga)

Translation: Mareike Graepel