Germany to ‘recruit workers from abroad’ to ease airport chaos

Long queues, luggage issues and cancelled flights - for weeks there have been scenes like this at German airports mainly due to staff shortages. Now the government wants to step in and allow the recruitment of temporary workers from abroad.

Passengers at Düsseldorf airport on Saturday June 26th.
Passengers at Düsseldorf airport on Saturday June 26th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | David Young

Passengers flying from airports in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) were the latest to face chaotic scenes at the weekend after schools in the state became the first in Germany to end for the summer holiday on June 24th.

Travellers at Düsseldorf airport in particular faced major problems, with some people having to queue for hours to get through security. There were also major issues with people getting their baggage due to a technical problem. 

Meanwhile, nine flights were cancelled by midday on Saturday at Düsseldorf – eight of them by Eurowings and Lufthansa – adding more misery to passengers.

There were also reportedly waits of 60 to 90 minutes to get through security at Cologne/Bonn airport at the weekend.

It comes after airports were overwhelmed during the Whitsun long weekend at the beginning of June. 

Many of the issues are linked to companies letting go of staff, or employees leaving, when Covid restrictions meant travel was much more difficult.

With the increase of Covid infections again, there are also more people on sick leave at the moment. A lack of workers combined with a surge in demand for travel after Covid rules were lifted has resulted in issues in travel across Europe. 

READ ALSO: ‘Arrive three hours early’: Your tips for flying in Germany this summer

Now the German government wants to step in to address staff shortages by looking to recruit from abroad. 

“The Federal Government is planning to allow urgently needed personnel from abroad to enter Germany for temporary work,” Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) told newspaper Bild am Sonntag at the weekend.

Heil stressed that temp employees would receive standard wages and be provided with suitable accommodation for the period.

According to information from government circles, a large number of skilled workers could enter Germany for a few months sometime in July. Sources said the initial plan is for about 2,000 workers to be recruited. 

The workers are to be recruited from Turkey and some Balkan states, among other countries, for a limited period of up to three months, Ralph Beisel, CEO of the German Airports Association (ADV), told DPA on Monday. They would likely be employed directly by ground handling service providers. 

Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) spoke of a “temporary solution” agreed with Heil and Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD).

He said: “I take the situation seriously and want to help citizens.” 

READ ALSO: How your travel plans to Germany could change this summer

Faeser added: “We will make it possible for support staff from abroad to be deployed, for example, in baggage handling.” She added that there would be no compromise on security. 

According to a study by the Institute of the German Economy, there is currently a shortage of about 7,200 skilled workers at German airports.

After NRW, schools in the coastal states of Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania will go on holiday next week, followed by Hamburg, Berlin and Brandenburg on the Wednesday after (July 6th).

The southern states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria will be the last to go – at the end of July and on August 1st respectively.

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Majority of Germans in favour of ‘extending the €9 ticket’

The €9 ticket is set to expire at the end of the month. But more than half of Germans want the cheap travel deal to continue, according to a new survey.

Majority of Germans in favour of 'extending the €9 ticket'

In three weeks’ time, Germany’s cheap summer travel offer will come to an end. While members of the traffic light coalition government have been unable to agree on a continuation of the ticket, the majority of Germans are in favour of keeping the heavily-discounted travel card in place.

According to a survey conducted by the opinion research institute Civey for German news magazine Spiegel, 55 percent would like to see an extension of the ticket, which allows people to use public transportation throughout Germany for €9 per month. Meanwhile, 34 percent of Germans are against extending the offer. 

READ ALSO: Could drivers in Germany fund a future €9 ticket scheme?

The survey also showed that mainly Green Party supporters are for an extension of the €9 ticket, as more than two-thirds are in favour of continuing the deal. A majority of supporters of the Left Party and the SPD are also in favour of continuing the discount campaign.

Leading Green Party politicians have put forward proposals for a cheap successor to the €9 ticket: a regional ticket for €29 and a nationwide ticket for €49 a month. 

Meanwhile, FDP Finance Minister Christian Lindner has heavily criticised demands for extending the cheap transport deal. On Monday he tweeted that a “freebie mentality is not sustainably financeable, not efficient and not fair”. He also told the  Augsburger Allgemeine that there is no scope for an extension in the federal budget.

The Spiegel poll backs up the results of a questionnaire conducted by The Local, which showed that 85.4 percent of readers want the €9 ticket to continue after August. Meanwhile, 47.2 percent of readers said that reduced cost was the most important issue for them in relation to public transport in Germany. 

READ ALSO: ‘Affordable and simple’: What foreigners in Germany want to see after the €9 ticket

Reader Asa from Hamburg, 26, told the Local “I’d love to see a successor to the €9 ticket supported. It’s given me the chance to explore the surrounding towns in a way that would otherwise be financially unviable.”

Bethany, a reader from Kaiserslautern, said she had replaced at least six long-distance car journeys with public transport in June and July.

“Before, the cost of taking a train wasn’t worth it. But now? I’ll put up with delayed trains for €9,” she said.