Flight chaos puts the federal government under pressure to act

Berlin In view of the tense situation at the airports with numerous flight cancellations and delays, the Union has called on the federal government to act. “Transport Minister Wissing and Interior Minister Faeser must now present an immediate concept as to how they want to eliminate the bottlenecks at the airports in the short term,” said Andrea Lindholz (CSU), Vice President of the Union parliamentary group. “The private security service providers must not simply be relieved of their duties.”

The air traffic control union also sees an urgent need for action in view of the threatening chaotic conditions. Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) must act before the parliamentary summer break and convene an aviation summit, said the federal chairman of the union, Matthias Maas.

Otherwise there is a risk of “unprecedented chaos” at the airports. “More last-minute flight cancellations, long lines in the terminals, desperate passengers who don’t get to their planes on time, and delayed or lost bags will be the order of the day.”

Wissing recently spoke of an “enormous challenge” for everyone. However, he does not expect the situation to improve anytime soon. Short-term solutions are unlikely, the FDP politician told the “Bild am Sonntag”.

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For weeks there have been major problems at Germany’s airports, but also in other European countries, due to a lack of staff at airports and airlines. Lufthansa alone wants to cancel 900 flights in Munich and Frankfurt in July.

SPD sees no solution in more federal police

According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the shortage of staff at German airports is particularly affecting Düsseldorf Airport. A ministry spokesman told the Handelsblatt that there were “selective waiting times at aviation security checks”. The waiting time is more than 30 minutes, especially at the Düsseldorf location, but also to a lesser extent at the Hanover, Frankfurt, Cologne and BER airport locations.

>> Read also: Airport chaos and staff shortages everywhere: what travelers can expect this holiday season

According to the Verdi union, Hamburg Airport is also affected. Munich also lacks staff, but the situation there is better because the security staff are not employed by a private company, but by a state-owned company that pays according to the public service tariff.

Solutions for the expected travel rush in the summer holidays are proving difficult. The spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior explained that federal measures in the corona crisis ensured that the service providers did not have to be dismissed for operational reasons. “Due to other fluctuations, however, the workforce at the service providers has decreased by around ten to 15 percent compared to 2019 and must – as far as possible – be replaced.”

The ministry does not expect the situation to improve any time soon, because not everyone is allowed to work as an aviation security assistant. “The prerequisite is a background check, training and passing an exam, so that a certain amount of lead time is required,” said the spokesman.

FDP parliamentary group leader Christian Dürr therefore called for the federal police to be used more frequently for security checks. However, the SPD and the Greens are skeptical. “Apparently, the wrong impression is being given here that the personnel problems at the airports are only limited to passenger checks,” said the SPD domestic politician Sebastian Fiedler.

For example, the ground staff who have nothing to do with security checks are also affected. “There is a high probability that there will be long waiting times in the summer.”

Dürr promises more federal police at airports that “the queues at the security checkpoints” will be shorter. In principle, the federal police are already responsible for security checks, and at some airports the state police are also responsible. As a rule, however, private service providers commissioned by the company are used for this purpose.

The Greens parliamentary group Vice Konstantin von Notz was surprised at the staff shortages. The fact that there was an increase in the number of passengers during the summer holiday season “can’t really come as a surprise,” von Notz told the Handelsblatt.

“Against this background, we see the airport companies and the security companies commissioned by them as primarily responsible for providing sufficient staff to ensure that security checks run as smoothly as possible.”

The CSU blames the FDP for the tense situation

Where this is not guaranteed, adjustments must be made accordingly. “The federal police can provide support as best they can.” However, these are definitely limited due to the sharp increase in requirements in recent years, for example in border security.

The federal police union generally refuses for federal police officers to “push luggage tubs back and forth at the control point”. Rather, law enforcement officials should prevent and investigate crimes, said union boss Heiko Teggatz. “You would have to leave tasks untapped in order to temporarily increase the number of employees in aviation security,” explained the trade unionist. By the end of June, the federal police will not be able to help anyway. “Several thousand federal police officers are on duty for the imminent G7 summit in Elmau.”

The CSU politician Lindholz blamed the FDP for the tense situation, especially since Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner had refused urgently needed new jobs for the federal police in the budget negotiations. “Obviously the FDP is trying to pass the buck on to the SPD at an early stage in order to distract attention from the failings of their own ministers, Wissing and Lindner.”

The police unionist Teggatz sees it similarly. “Anyone who wants to use more federal police at the airports must also ensure that the necessary posts are included in the federal police budget,” he said. “The Federal Police had requested ten additional operational units and were given positions for only four operational units.”

The German Travel Association (DRV) called for “measures and initiatives” to eliminate the bottlenecks “promptly”. Airports, airport service providers and airlines are required to do this. “On the other hand, quick support when recruiting additional staff is essential,” the association explained at the request of the Handelsblatt.

“Here, the responsible authorities need to make the approval procedures for personnel recruitment easier.” What is important here are “short-term relief concepts that can also be implemented, so that Germans can also enjoy their well-deserved vacation in the summer”.

The Federal Association of the German Aviation Industry (BDL) suggested short-term deployment of workers from third countries, such as Turkey, to ground service providers. “We have already asked the federal government to facilitate the process of hiring out employees with special permits in this special situation,” explained the BDL.

The decision lies with the Federal Minister of Labor and the Federal Minister of Transport. Both agreed to take an exam.

More: Thousands of Britons are stranded abroad due to flight cancellations

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