Düsseldorf / Cologne (dpa / lnw) – According to the trade unionist, long lines at the main airports in North Rhine-Westphalia will still be visible throughout the holiday. Özay Tarim, union secretary responsible for Verdi NRW airports, said there were no signs of an increase in staff numbers at security checkpoints anytime soon. “For the floor service providers, staffing levels are also likely to remain very low.”
Can foreign forces ease the tension?
Industry’s plans to use specialists from Turkey and the Balkan countries, for example to handle luggage, should no longer be of use at NRW airports during the summer vacation, Tarim said.
Recently, the federal government paved the way for easier recruitment of foreign personnel. These are additional employees at ground service providers, such as baggage handling and airplane stairs. It’s not about security checkpoints – companies work here on behalf of the Federal Police. Workers from other EU countries are not allowed to work here.
In addition to waiting times, even more difficult is that airlines are still canceling flights. Eurowings canceled flights from Düsseldorf to Nice, Milan and Westerland for this Saturday, and Lufthansa canceled two flights on the same day from Düsseldorf to Frankfurt.
How do airports rate the use of foreign workers?
A spokesman for Cologne Airport was positive and said the possibility was “currently under intense scrutiny”. However, the aircraft handling and baggage handling processes worked well. “From the point of view of the airport, the most urgent task is to permanently improve the staffing situation at the passenger control point of the federal police.”
What are the unions saying about this situation?
According to his own statement, trade unionist Tarim is currently on his way to various NRW airports every day. “The lines are getting longer – it’s unbelievable,” he said, shaking his head. This is especially annoying as problems were predictable. As an employee representative, attention was paid to the impending staff shortage after the end of the crown restrictions last year. However, companies operating in various areas of the airport have done far too little to retain workers despite the crisis, the union secretary said.
Working conditions have not improved. “We said it would take revenge in the summer – and now we hit the wall.” The situation is very difficult for the rest of the staff during security and ground handling as the workload and stress are enormous. “It’s piecework for too few people.” It’s dangerous to safety, Tarim warned.
How do security companies see the situation?
Securitas is responsible for the security gates at Cologne-Bonn Airport. The company’s spokesman justified the staff shortages, among others a high rate of sickness due to the crown and an unexpectedly large number of passengers. Employees are actively recruited and qualified personnel is constantly trained. “We start our training courses in quick succession and therefore always run several courses,” says a Securitas spokesman. “Consequently, new employees always join us every few weeks.” It is impossible to say when the situation will improve.
Service company Piepenbrock, whose subsidiary DSW is responsible for security checks at Düsseldorf Airport, was reluctant to comment on the current issues when asked to do so.
Are the procedures at the security checkpoints optimal?
Anyone who recently had to wait in one of the lines and looked nervously at the clock might have asked themselves whether it was possible to speed up the processes at security posts. No, Jens Flören of the federal police said and stressed that the processes would not be changed. “Accuracy and therefore safety are more important than speed.”
The Federal Police entrusts security companies with work on the locks. A police spokesman confirmed that companies were looking for workers under a lot of pressure. In Düsseldorf, the responsible DSW was able to send 62 additional employees to the start of the vacation to take care of the check-in and return of the bathtub at security checkpoints. Most likely, 60 more will be available soon.
Aviation security assistants who conduct baggage scans and body checks are personal Achilles’ heel. Here, staff recruitment is more complex, training takes 12 weeks, according to the federal police, not just a week as for their colleagues who are less skilled.
Can organizing flight schedules help?
From the point of view of a police spokesman, the flight plan is also part of the current difficulties. “The problem is not the mass of passengers, but the concentration during rush hour,” said Flören. If the flight schedule was tidied up and the number of passengers at security checks and terminals were roughly the same throughout the day, it would be much easier for security companies.
As a “last resort”, it is possible for federal police officers to step in and take over the briefing and return to the airlock bathtub. However, this only happens when there is an impending threat to aviation safety and “if there is no other option,” said a federal police spokesman. Police officers cannot scan luggage, they are not trained to do so.
And what was the situation on the second holiday weekend?
A week after the vacation began, the situation at North Rhine-Westphalia airports improved significantly. Because slightly fewer passengers had to pass through the security checkpoints than before: around 132,500 passengers used Düsseldorf airport last Saturday and Sunday, and 111,000 on the second weekend of the summer holidays. In Cologne-Bonn, this number drops by 5,000 to 110,000 passengers, with weekend figures referring to three days each, ie from Friday to Sunday.
Queues re-formed on Saturday at both major NRW airports, but service in Düsseldorf and Cologne was orderly and quiet.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220702-99-883791 / 3