Three federal ministers lined up in front of the press on Wednesday to present their answers to the outrageous chaos at the airports. All three speak of “pragmatic solutions” so that after two and a half years of the pandemic, people are not cheated of their vacation. But what the three politicians then have to offer in concrete terms is pathetic and comes much too late.
Because it is a system collapse with an announcement. For months now, a disastrous mixture of dramatically increasing booking numbers, a blatant shortage of skilled workers on the ground and in the air and a pandemic has been brewing in air traffic, which unfortunately has by no means been overcome, but is forcing thousands of employees into quarantine right now.
Nobody wants to hear about the problems and the pandemic anymore. Germans go on vacation like there’s no tomorrow. And nobody wants to tell them that everything is not over yet. But that the real problems are just beginning.
Aviation officials have known for months that the industry is headed for chaos this summer. But companies wanted and needed the post-pandemic recovery so badly that they ignored the warning signs and offered so many flights as if all the problems didn’t exist. Eyes shut and go for it. What doesn’t fit will be made to fit. The risk of failure is borne by the travelers who are now stuck at some airport with their children by the hand.
Transport Minister Volker Wissing could and should have known what was coming at the airports. But only now does he begin to act. After the holidays have already begun in Germany’s largest federal state, or for countless travelers not either. Because they couldn’t even get away from Düsseldorf Airport, let alone the train. The federal government supported the aviation industry with billions during the pandemic. Nevertheless, he allowed tens of thousands of jobs to be cut in companies such as Lufthansa, but also at the airports. The purpose of state intervention, to ensure system-relevant flight operations, was missed.
In the middle of the holiday season, three ministers are trying to save what can no longer be saved. The announced measures seem helpless. The federal government does not know how to help itself other than to fall back on an economic policy instrument from the 1960s: Skilled workers from Turkey are supposed to solve the misery. Sixty years ago they were called guest workers, and there was a Vespa to welcome the millionth.
Guest security forces and guest bag packers are supposed to do things at German airports that this country cannot do itself. The ministers want to throw various regulations overboard in their departments so that emergency recruitment from third countries can be made compatible with German law in the short term. But only in permanent positions, that was very important to the Labor Minister Hubertus Heil. And not at the expense of security, emphasizes Interior Minister Nancy Faeser.
The fantasy that thousands of qualified specialists stand idle at Turkish airports, just waiting to get on the next plane to save the Germans the holiday season under not particularly comfortable and lucrative working conditions, represents only the next act of window dressing. Job interviews, Background checks, employment contracts – it all takes weeks. The holidays will be over by the time the trio of ministers’ Turkish miracle weapon is actually used in the control lane at the airport.
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