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.
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.”
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.