Passengers flying from Cologne/Bonn airport, in North Rhine-Westphalia, faced queues of over two hours to get through security at times over the weekend, the Verdi union reported. There were also long waits at Düsseldorf airport.
Flight cancellations and delays were reported at both airports. However, a spokesman from Cologne/Bonn airport told broadcaster WDR that things were “running calmly and orderly” and that people were “waiting patiently”.
Some holidaymakers said they arrived at the airport up to eight hours early. This “new phenomenon” adds to the difficult situation, said a spokesman for the federal police.
Meanwhile, more than 200 flights were cancelled at Frankfurt airport over the weekend to spare travellers the worst of the chaos. According to airport operator Fraport, this included some last-minute cancellations.
Despite the cancellations, there were still delays for passengers, especially while checking in and dropping off baggage for flights.
A spokeswoman for Fraport described the situation on Sunday as “tense”.
Long queues also formed at security control, departure, arrival and baggage claim. There were also delays at the baggage reclaim area.
The airport, which is Germany’s largest, generally advises travellers to be at the check-in desk at least two and a half hours before departure.
As The Local has been reporting, airports and airlines are dealing with major staff shortages after letting workers go during the Covid pandemic. Meanwhile, due to the increase in Covid infections, many staff are having to call in sick to quarantine.
The German government has stepped in to ease rules to allow private companies to recruit temporary workers from abroad. However, it will take a number of weeks for the workers to be recruited and trained.
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Fraport reportedly cut around 4,000 jobs during the Covid crisis when government restrictions meant travel was difficult. The company is hoping to fill 1,000 positions this year. The firm also wants to recruit temporary foreign workers this summer.
More than 100 administrative staff are also helping to process passengers, the operator said.
Late last week the German Air Transport Association was cautiously optimistic that things would improve soon.
An association spokeswoman told Tagesschau that normal service should start to resume “from autumn onwards”.