Berlin (dpa) – Lines and heaps of luggage, staff shortages and customer fever: Many airports in Germany face problems in the middle of the main travel season. Looking at Europe shows that there are similar difficulties elsewhere – but not everywhere. Especially in southern Europe, operations at major airports are doing much better, according to a study by a German news agency.
Even at the airports of the popular holiday destination in Spain, in summer you moan under the crowds of tourists. There are queues and delays. However, they are limited and result mainly from strikes of the ground staff of Ryanair and Easyjet and chaos at feeder airports – e.g. in Germany
Among other things, the lack of staff in Spain is not so noticeable as fewer people took to the streets during the pandemic. This is thanks to the so-called ERTE – an instrument of Spanish labor law that allows companies to suspend employment contracts for a specified period. According to its own statements, the government has committed a good € 19 billion to financing ERTE during the corona crisis.
In Italy, too, passenger numbers have not yet returned to pre-crown levels, says Pierluigi Di Palma, head of the Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) of the Ansa news agency. However, they have risen significantly in the last three months. However, there was no chaos at the airports – except when flight schedules got mixed up due to delays elsewhere.
Di Palma attributes a small number of problems primarily to financial injections from the state, which supported airports with around € 800 million during the pandemic, including short-term work benefits. This cash injection, said the head of aviation, allowed airports to detain personnel and guarantee ground operations.
Greece and Cyprus
According to airport operators, both holiday countries have recruited enough workers for the tourist season, which is so important from an economic point of view. Both security checks and baggage handling were largely normal, Athens airport spokesman Eleftherios Venizielos said.
The problems are mainly due to the many late planes from Germany and Great Britain and the chaos there. Many times this means that tourists from these countries have to wait at Greek airports because their planes are late or have not even landed.
According to Hava-Sen, a trade union of aviation workers, there is currently no shortage of workforce in Turkey. Turkish Airlines and a spokesman for Istanbul Airport also noted largely smooth trials.
The reason for the delays is not a lack of staff, but a large amount of travel to airports such as the Antalya holiday region, said Seckin Kocak, Hava-Sen’s boss. In addition, there was an oversupply of personnel in Turkey prior to the outbreak of the pandemic.
According to the Vienna airport, there are no significant irregularities in tourist traffic during the summer period. “The operations are largely going smoothly,” said airport spokesman Peter Kleemann. Thanks to government support, the airport has not laid off any staff during the krone pandemic and is well prepared for current and expected passenger numbers.
Unlike other airports, Vienna Airport handles many passenger-related processes alone and with its own staff, such as security checks and most of the ground handling. Thanks to this, you can control processes and abilities yourself.
On the other hand, the picture in another neighboring country is completely different: chaos is almost everyday life at the Dutch airport Schiphol this summer. Some planes take off with significant delays and passengers have to expect waiting hours ahead of time. Dozens of flights were canceled, especially on weekends. Some airlines have now switched their holiday flights to regional airports.
Luggage handling is also chaotic. The reason for this is the lack of staff. There are also too few people in security. This is due to the high workload and low earnings. During the Corona period, many workers moved to health authorities which paid much better. And now they are not going back to the airport anymore – although in the meantime salaries have increased significantly and they are even paying out bonuses.
It seems to be a cry for help: British Airways’ largest airline is canceling over 10,000 additional short-haul flights by the end of October. This is for the safety of customers, too many flights had to be canceled in a short time.
To deal with the chaos, the British government relaxed the rules on take-off and landing rights at airports just before the peak travel season. Airlines can use it to cancel flights and give up so-called slots, without fear of losing expensive take-off rights.
There are queues, delays and flight cancellations in France, especially at Paris airports. Air traffic increased sharply and more than expected again. As a result, it is not possible to re-hire ground staff that had been reduced to the extent required during the corona crisis. Around 4,000 jobs are announced at Paris airports alone, Orly and Charles-de-Gaulle. Interest in shift work and weekend work has waned due to the noticeable economic recovery in France.
In addition, workers have repeatedly been on strike in recent weeks for higher wages and better working conditions, both at airlines and, more recently, among ground staff. Thus, around ten percent of Charles-de-Gaulle airport take-offs and landings have been canceled in the last few days.