Germany to speed up foreign airport workers to reduce travel chaos

BERLIN, June 29 (Reuters) – The German government will expedite the issuance of work permits and visas for several thousand foreign airport workers, mostly from Turkey, to ease the summer travel chaos that has frustrated holidaymakers, German ministers said on Wednesday.

Travelers across Europe are facing particularly long queues at airports this summer due in part to a shortage of staff to cope with the recovery in demand from the COVID-19 lockdown.

“Many people are looking forward to a vacation after a long pandemic, which is why airport outages are frustrating,” Labor Minister Hubertus Heil told reporters at a press conference.

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Germany’s aviation sector is now looking to send workers with airport experience, mostly from Turkey, to Germany to work with ground crews, including in baggage handling, Interior Minister Nancy Faezer said at a press conference on Wednesday.

They will have to go through the same security checks as local airport workers before they are allowed to work at airports, she said.

Airlines, some of which hoped to hire foreign personnel through temporary employment agencies, will have to hire workers directly and at standard wages, Labor Minister Hail said.

Heil blamed the shortage on airlines and airport operators, saying they laid off too many workers during the pandemic, who have now found work in other sectors such as parcel delivery.

“Companies should have taken action. Now we see that this has not been done sufficiently,” he said.

Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) chief executive Carsten Spohr apologized to employees and customers for the chaos on Tuesday, saying the flag carrier made mistakes when it cut costs during the pandemic to try to save the company. read more

Heil said the government’s intervention to help companies get foreign workers to German airports was a temporary measure to ease the strain on vacationers.

“This is not a long term solution. Companies need to make sure that they are attractive employers with decent conditions and wages,” Hale said.

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Reporting by Klaus Lauer and Maria Shihan. Editing by Jane Merriman

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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