Long queues and cancellations Government wants to bring in workers from abroad to shorten waiting times at airports
Düsseldorf · You needed plenty of time and good nerves if you were flying away on holiday this weekend from NRW this weekend. But the shortage of staff at the airports is only one of the reasons.
Holiday frustration: For many people in NRW, the summer holidays started this weekend with long queues and cancelled flights. At least one of the reasons for the problems is staff shortages at the airports. The federal government wants to tackle the situation with a new initiative.
Travellers in Düsseldorf told a dpa reporter on Saturday that they had already been waiting at the airport for five hours. They had arrived early. There was trouble with the luggage transport system, which showed its vulnerable side at the beginning of the holidays. After trouble on Friday, there was another malfunction in part of the system on Saturday. "It can therefore not be ruled out that luggage will be left behind in Düsseldorf today," the airport announced.
In contrast, security checks in Düsseldorf, which had often been the critical point in the past weeks, turned out to be problem-free. "We have a waiting time of 10 to 15 minutes in Düsseldorf and are very satisfied with that," said a spokesperson for the Federal Police.
Just in time, the Federal Police had been able to engage a second service provider to assist. The main service provider also recruited additional support staff.
At Cologne/Bonn Airport, things looked very different on Saturday: "We have waiting times of 60 to 90 minutes at the security checkpoints there," said the spokesperson. This was due to staff absences of more than a hundred employees due to illness. "We can’t do anything to make up for that."
To combat the staff shortage at airports in Germany, the federal government wants to allow the entry of foreign workers on a temporary basis to fill staff shortages. Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag: "We want to rule out any form of social dumping and exploitation. Employers must pay collective wages and provide decent accommodation for a limited time."
Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) spoke in the newspaper of an action coordinated with Heil and Minister for the Interior Nancy Faeser (SPD) to "relieve the staff shortages at German airports and present a temporary solution". Faeser added: "We will make it possible for auxiliary staff from abroad to be deployed, for example, for baggage handling." In doing so, she said, "there will be no cutbacks in security."
Referring to government sources, the newspaper wrote that the aim was to bring a four-digit number of skilled workers from Turkey, who could at best be deployed for a few months as early as July.
Shortly before the start of the main holiday season, Lufthansa announced that it would cancel a total of almost 3,000 flights at its Frankfurt and Munich hubs because more and more crews are calling in sick due with Covid. The main reason is the lack of staff not only at the airline itself, but also at the airports, for example at the security check.
Already on Friday - the last NRW school day - there were long queues at the security checks and check-in desks at Cologne/Bonn and Düsseldorf airports.
The automobile association ADAC had predicted that since many people were choosing to fly on holiday after the forced break caused by the pandemic, there would be less focus on car travel. And indeed, the normal big wave of travellers on the motorways in North Rhine-Westphalia did not materialise on Saturday.
Deutsche Bahn, on the other hand, has recorded increased numbers of people using its trains. It was busier than on normal weekends, said a spokesperson. In addition, there is the 9-Euro-Ticket, which has been available for almost four weeks now. With it, passengers can travel throughout Germany on local public transport in June, July and August. "Of course, there will be difficult situations on individual regional transport routes, between the major cities in NRW and in the direction of the North Sea," the President of the Association of German Transport Companies told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur, referring to the start of the holidays in NRW.
North Rhine-Westphalia was the first of the 16 German states to start its summer holidays with the last day of school on Friday. One week later, the coastal states of Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania will follow, on the Wednesday after (6 July) Hamburg, Berlin and Brandenburg. The last to go are the southern states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria - at the end of July and on 1 August respectively.