As airports across Europe continue to be understaffed and the number of passengers and flights increase, international travelers continue to find travel to the region an ordeal. There are long waits for baggage claim at airports.
The increase in international flights from countries in the region since June, with the start of the holiday season, has led to a crisis at many airports, where staffing has been reduced due to COVID-19 and existing employees are on strike.
At international airports in many countries, long queues for ticket checks and baggage loading at the departures section and long waits for baggage collection at the arrivals section.
No flights from Brussels Airport for a day
Flight cancelations occur at airports where some staff have been on strike for more than a month.
At Brussels Airport in Belgium, passenger flights could not take off for a day on June 20 due to a strike by security personnel.
As passengers and luggage could not be screened, no outbound flights could be operated from Brussels Airport. The airport was only able to provide inbound passenger and cargo services that day.
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Strikes by airline employees also cause congestion at Brussels Airport. Flights are either delayed or canceled due to strikes.
Since July 22, disruptions at Brussels and Charleroi Airports due to strikes by Ryanair employees have caused congestion
In mid-June, in addition to Ryanair, Brussels Airlines employees went on strike for 3 days, disrupting more than 500 flights at Brussels Airport.
At Amsterdam Airport, 41.5 percent of flights were delayed
Authorities at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands are struggling to find a solution to the congestion that has been ongoing since April.
Despite the end of the strike by the ground handling staff of Royal Dutch Airlines KLM on the morning of April 23, the problem of accumulation, delay and loss of luggage at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport still cannot be solved.
Many flights have been canceled at the airport and some of the flights are being diverted to neighboring airports in Rotterdam and Eindhoven.
In order to reduce the ongoing congestion, passengers with flights of more than 4 hours are kept waiting outside the airport, while the queues at the international departures section of the airport are hundreds of meters long.
On July 20, due to the malfunction of the baggage system at the airport, the tickets of thousands of passengers with luggage other than cabin luggage were canceled, while piles of luggage were formed at the airport.
Schiphol, which ranked fourth in CNN Travel’s list of “most problematic airports” based on the delays of flights between May 26 and July 19, was delayed in 41.5 percent of the flights on the specified dates.
Every day at Zurich Airport, 250 pieces of luggage cannot be returned to their owners
With the school holidays in Switzerland, a large number of families traveled abroad at once, disrupting the operation of the country’s airports to a great extent.
At Zurich Airport, which was most affected by the flight density, 750 suitcases piled up in the baggage claim section on June 29 and 30 due to staff shortages and some flight cancellations.
In addition, due to the disruption in baggage services at the airport, an average of 250 bags cannot be delivered to their owners every day, while more than 1700 bags are currently waiting to be delivered to their passengers.
Nathalie Berchtold, spokesperson of the airline company Swissport, stated that they will solve the problem by trying to deliver the luggage remaining at the airport to their owners via cargo.
2 thousand flights canceled in Germany
German airline Lufthansa Airlines announced that it canceled 2,000 flights departing from or arriving in Frankfurt and Munich until the end of August.
It was noted that the flight cancelations were due to the lack of airline and airport staff. Lufthansa had canceled more than 4 percent of its flights in June.
At Frankfurt International Airport (FRA), which reduced the number of employees by 4 thousand during the Covid-19 outbreak, 7.8 percent of the flights expected to be made as of July were canceled, while 68 percent were delayed.
At the airport, where thousands of suitcases piled up on top of each other, the management asked travelers to choose colorful and eye-catching luggage.
On the other hand, Cologne-Bonn Airport experienced similar scenes with long passenger queues and piled up luggage.
In June, 9.5 percent of flights at the airport were canceled and nearly half of the flights in the summer season were delayed.
The German government, seeking to fill staff shortages at the airports, saw Turkish workers as a solution. With the bilateral agreement signed between Germany and Turkey at the beginning of this month, “guest workers” from Turkey are expected to fill the labor shortage, especially in baggage handling and transportation.
However, it is emphasized that this method may take weeks due to strict security controls in the recruitment process.
Ticket sales restricted in England
Heathrow Airport is understaffed to cope with increased international flights following the lifting of COVID-19 measures and management has failed to recruit staff quickly.
Nearly 700 British Airways staff working at Heathrow, mostly at ticket checkpoints, went on strike at the beginning of the summer over a 10 percent pay cut imposed during COVID-19. The staff, whose salaries were increased by 8 percent, decided to end their action on July 22.
On the other hand, Aviation Fuel Services (AFS), one of the companies operating Heathrow, accepted the demands of the workers for an increase in their salaries.
The airport management, unable to meet the increasing demand with fewer staff, requested airlines to restrict ticket sales. This was met with reaction, especially by Emirates Airlines.
Strike in Italy has canceled hundreds of flights
Many flights were canceled in Italy due to the 4-hour strike called by some air traffic controllers’ unions and low-cost airline employees on July 17.
With the call of some unions in the country, air traffic controllers and ground staff at different airports, as well as the staff of some low-cost companies such as Ryanair, Air Malta, Easyjet and Volotea went on strike between 14.00 and 18.00 today.
It was informed that hundreds of flights were canceled and some flights were delayed due to the 4-hour strike across the country.