Airport: Thousands of guest workers are supposed to end the chaos – but the plan has a catch

Lengthy process: Thousands of guest workers are supposed to end flight chaos – but the plan has many snags

Because airports and airlines did not manage to hire enough staff in time after the pandemic, there is now chaos. The federal government is therefore planning to recruit guest workers for ground staff jobs. But even that doesn’t help those who want to start their vacation now.

Sometimes the only thing that doesn’t fly is the suitcase. Sometimes holidaymakers have to stay on the ground themselves because they had no chance of getting through the security checks and catching their plane in time. And sometimes the flight is simply canceled because there is a lack of manpower, especially on the ground, but also in the air, which is necessary for take-off, landing and flying.

Airport chaos: guest workers should fix it

Exciting, but no time right now?

This has been everyday life at many airports in Germany and Europe for days. The traffic, labor and interior ministries have come up with the idea of ​​“guest workers” to clear up the chaos at the airports. In other words, people who are specifically invited to Germany from abroad to do a job here and then return to their home country.

The term dates back to the 1950s, when Italian men were initially recruited in a targeted manner to help rebuild industry in Germany after the war. Now it’s about restarting the aviation industry after two and a half years of the pandemic. The travel industry was hit by the pandemic like no other. For a while, hardly anyone was allowed to fly, and Lufthansa alone cut 40,000 jobs at home and abroad.

There is a shortage of more than 7,000 skilled workers in this country

As the pandemic subsided, Germans grew more interested in finally traveling again. The industry expected a boom – and that’s exactly what has happened. The problem with this up and down and up again: Winning back workers is currently more difficult for flight providers such as Lufthansa and also for airport operators such as Frankfurt Fraport than winning back customers. According to a study by the German Economic Institute (IW), airports in Germany lack more than 7,000 skilled workers. There are also failures caused by those who are currently calling in sick because of Corona.

Because the situation at the airports is currently more than uncomfortable and some long-planned vacations fall through, the federal government has got involved. It’s not actually her job, and what she can contribute to the solution is also questionable, given the chaotic conditions at the state-owned travel and transport company Deutsche Bahn. Nevertheless, the ministries of transport, labor and interior have set up a joint working group whose proposal is now to recruit guest workers.

Guest workers for jobs such as baggage handling

The problem with this idea is the necessary security check of the new staff. Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser does not want unskilled guest workers to check hand luggage and frisk passengers: “This is not an option for security checks because of the training and safety standards required there, but for simpler activities such as baggage handling,” said her spokesman opposite the ´”Tagesschau”. However, there is not as much lack of staff as at the security check.

Anyone who works there must be regarded as particularly reliable. For example, the regional council in Stuttgart is responsible for approving security personnel at airports in Baden-Württemberg. The process usually takes between two and four weeks. This is regardless of whether the person submitting the application is from abroad or not. It couldn’t be faster, says a spokeswoman for the authorities. According to this, fixed procedural steps must be observed “that are coordinated with EU law”.

“Basically, it can be said that aviation security personnel, in addition to a background check, would also have to be extensively trained and then checked, so that a short-term assignment seems hardly imaginable due to the tight timeline,” she adds be in use.

A four-digit number of specialists should help out in July

Against this background, the announcement by Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) sounds dubious. He had said at the weekend: “The federal government is planning to allow urgently needed personnel to enter Germany for temporary work.”

It is made even more complicated by the fact that Heil wants to avoid at all costs that the new guest workers are treated like the seasonal workers who are needed again and again in the meat industry, for example. Above all, the minister is urging workers to get proper, albeit temporary, collective agreements and be able to live in reasonable housing.

That describes the hurdles. And so it could be that the first guest worker starts at the security checkpoint when the last passenger has already disappeared. Be it because Corona is returning or the holidays are simply over.

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The contribution “Thousands of guest workers should end flight chaos – but the plan has many snags” comes from economic courier.

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