Germany may face airport chaos in summer, warns minister

Transport Minister Volker Wissing says Germany has to take action now to limit travel chaos at airports this summer.

People at Berlin's BER airport on June 3rd.
People at Berlin's BER airport on June 3rd. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

Staff shortages at airports have been causing major problems in Europe recently as the number of travellers increases again following the end of most Covid restrictions. 

In the last few days, thousands of Britons trying to travel to and from the UK have been affected by flight cancellations. 

And in Germany, there is growing concern about a similar situation happening during peak travel season.

As The Local reported this week, the issue is down to increased demand for travel again.

But airlines and airports cut back during the pandemic, and got rid of a lot of staff. Now there are huge staff shortages. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), there are major problems at security and baggage check areas.

Transport Minister Wissing told Bild am Sonntag: “Two issues are coming together here – on the one hand, people feel a great need to catch up on travelling after all the deprivations and restrictions during the corona pandemic.

“On the other hand, there is the travel and transport industry, which was virtually paralysed during corona and lost staff.”

The FDP minister called for a “job initiative to recruit skilled workers”, and to modernise infrastructure.

READ ALSO: How airports in Europe have been hit by transport chaos

Thousands of vacancies at German airports

The staff shortage in Germany is severe, said Ralph Beisel, CEO of the German Airports Association (ADV).

“Across all locations, the service providers involved in handling passengers are short of around 20 percent ground staff compared to pre-corona times,” Beisel told DPA.

“This can lead to bottlenecks at peak times, especially in check-in, baggage loading and aviation security control.”

German airport works councils estimate that around 5,500 new staff are needed to fill the demand.

But Beisel stressed that because of the security requirements for staffing at airports, employees cannot be hired overnight.

We’d love to know if you’ve experienced airport problems in Germany either when trying to leave or coming back. Drop us an email: [email protected] and tell us what it’s been like.

Member comments

  1. Surprise surprise – they all got bailed out by their Governments, then rather than start recruiting early enough to be ready for this, they kept those wages & now it of course there are staff shortages , but they will never admit it was their fault

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

Germany's much-talked about €9 ticket offer ends later this month. But a think tank has suggested that a toll system for drivers could provide funding to subsidise public transport, as well as to upgrade the roads network.

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

It is the main sticking point for reduced price travel continuing in Germany after the €9 ticket expires at the end of August – where would the money come from?

Now a group of experts have a proposal on how it could be funded in the future – and it involves car drivers. 

In a study, the think tank Centrum für Europäische Politik (CEP) presented a concept for a general car toll, the revenue from which could be used to finance the costs of a permanent €9 ticket for local transport.

In the paper, which was made available to German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, the authors propose a route-dependent toll system throughout Germany – i.e. not only on Autobahns or country roads, but on all roads. This could be made possible by a satellite-based recording of the kilometres driven.

Furthermore, there would be differences in the prices per kilometre depending on the vehicle class, in order to reflect the different loads on the infrastructure caused by the weight and exhaust emissions of the vehicles.


The CEP calculated a surcharge of 6.9 cents per kilometre, however, there is currently an upper limit of four cents in Europe. The researchers suggest standardising the different toll systems that are used in European countries.

According to the study, revenue from the toll, amounting to around €12 billion, could initially be used to cover maintenance costs and to reduce the investment backlog in road transport. In this way, the acceptance of the levy among motorists could also be increased, the experts said.

However, the indirect consequential costs of car traffic, such as exhaust fumes and noise, should also be compensated. The report authors said the funds could therefore also used to expand public transport or to finance a permanent €9 ticket. 

The ticket, which is valid in all public transport networks in Germany – including on regional trains – currently costs around €2.5 billion for three months.

The suggestion comes after an attempt to introduce a car toll in Germany that only foreign drivers would have paid because German drivers were to be reimbursed failed under the previous federal government. The European Court of Justice rejected it as discrimination against foreign drivers. 

Tax excess profits of companies 

Meanwhile, Social Democrat leader Lars Klingbeil has said a follow-up ticket to the €9 offer could be funded by an ‘excess profits tax’.

“We have just seen that the €9 ticket makes sense, that it is accepted, that the citizens also want the extension,” Klingbeil told the radio station NDR Info.

With the excess profits tax, he said, the financing of a successor model could also be pushed forward.

The excess profits tax is intended for companies that profit from the energy crisis without making any contribution of their own. In Britain, for example, oil and gas companies have to pay a temporary 25 per cent tax on their extra profits. In Germany’s traffic light coalition, the Greens are also in favour of a supplementary tax, while the pro-business FDP rejects it.

FDP leader and Finance Minister Christian Lindner has repeatedly rejected an immediate follow-up to the €9 ticket, blaming finance woes.

At the weekend Lindner slammed the “freebie mentality” surrounding the ticket, and said continuing it with funding from the government wouldn’t be fair anyway. 

“People in the countryside who don’t have a train station nearby and depend on the car would subsidise cheap local transport,” he said. “I don’t think that’s fair,”



Car toll – (die) Pkw-Maut

Local transport – (der) Nahverkehr

Revenue – (die) Einnahmen

Freebie mentality – (die) Gratismentalität

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.