Cologne/Bonn/Berlin · The chaos at Cologne-Bonn and Düsseldorf airports is finally to be brought to an end. The German government now wants passenger checks to be managed by the airports instead of the federal police. Talks are to start soon.
The disaster at NRW's two major airports, Düsseldorf and Cologne-Bonn, is finally supposed to be brought to an end. After passengers repeatedly had to put up with extremely long queues at security checks during the Easter and summer vacations and even in the fall, the airport association ADV and the Federal Ministry of the Interior have agreed to jointly examine whether the airports in the Rhineland should manage the security checks themselves instead of leaving it to the relatively bureaucratic Federal Police. "The major airports are ready to assume their role as the central coordinator of all processes in the terminal and at the airport, including in the area of aviation security checks," Ralph Beisel, CEO of the ADV airport association, told our editorial team.
And now that the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Frankfurt Airport have agreed that the airport will control the checks itself from January, this is also to be planned for the two major airports in NRW, Cologne-Bonn and Düsseldorf. Frankfurt is a "pioneering lighthouse project," says Beisel. Regarding the situation at the other major airports, especially in NRW, the ADV will "soon begin appropriate discussions with the Federal Ministry of the Interior." At a reception hosted by the German Air Transport Association (BDL), German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) said she was aiming to adopt the "Frankfurt model" in Düsseldorf and Cologne. This is reported by several sources.
Both Düsseldorf and Cologne-Bonn welcome the new initiative, as does NRW Transport Minister Oliver Krischer (Greens). "Düsseldorf Airport is prepared to take over the selection and management of the service provider itself in order to organize the processes at the security checkpoints just as smoothly as the personnel and cargo checks," explains a spokeswoman for NRW's largest airport. For years, the airport has been annoyed because private security companies such as DSW (Piepenbrock) continually hire too few personnel in order to save money.
Praise, but also criticism for the plan
A spokesman for Cologne-Bonn says: "The airport welcomes the fact that there is discussion about putting the organization of security checks in the hands of the airports. The airport has a lot of experience in working with service providers, especially with regard to planning and controlling processes”. Krischer had already said at the end of September that it should be considered for Düsseldorf and Cologne-Bonn as to "whether the airport operators can take over the control and thus the responsibility for the smooth running of the checks, as is planned at Frankfurt Airport”.
Gregor Berghausen, Managing Director of the Düsseldorf Chamber of Industry and Commerce, is pleased: "An improvement in the situation is urgently needed for the economy". On the other hand, Zanda Martens, a member of the Düsseldorf Bundestag and the SPD parliamentary group's spokesperson for air passenger rights, believes it would be better to nationalize the controls: "Aviation security tasks must not continue to be outsourced to private service providers. The state must regain responsibility and control over smooth operations, counterterrorism, but also working conditions.”
Özay Tarim, the Verdi secretary responsible for the airport, agrees: "For months, the private security companies have not managed to hire enough staff. This is also due to the fact that the security company responsible for Düsseldorf, DSW (Piepenbrock), continues not to offer contracts with full-time hours in order to save money and to only have to pay low wages when there is little air traffic. "Aviation security tasks belong in public hands, as in Bavaria. Profit-oriented security companies have failed," Tarim says. The fact is that Piepenbrock actually offers a maximum of 120 hours of working time at a wage of 20 euros per hour, which amounts to a monthly wage of 2400 euros (without bonuses).
The situation in Bavaria, where a state-owned company has actually taken over the controls, and at other airports is very familiar to Carsten Spohr, head of Lufthansa. The current abuses in North Rhine-Westphalia are unacceptable, he says. The Bavarian model is a good one. But it makes just as much sense, he says, for the airport to manage the controls at NRW's two major airports: "We expect an improvement in Düsseldorf and Cologne-Bonn.”
Original text: Reinhard Kowalewsky