At the start of the summer holidays: It can also get chaotic at BER

The summer holidays in the capital region are just around the corner - a first real stress test for BER Airport.

At the start of the summer holidays: It can also get chaotic at BER

The summer holidays in the capital region are just around the corner - a first real stress test for BER Airport. Service providers are preparing for tricky days: In addition to the increased number of passengers, BER is also struggling with staff shortages.

It could be the first real travel summer since the outbreak of the corona pandemic for the capital's airport BER: No threatening virus variant abroad is making the headlines; the travel restrictions, especially in the EU, have been significantly relaxed. "We see a very strong demand for vacation trips," said Easyjet Germany boss Stephan Erler with a view to BER. “Customers are more confident with the decrease in massive corona restrictions and reporting.”

However, as at many other German airports, staff shortages at airlines and service providers threaten to dampen the desire to travel during the summer holidays, which start in Berlin and Brandenburg next Thursday. Tenor from the companies: We are fundamentally prepared in terms of personnel for the onslaught - but unscheduled failures could quickly mess up the processes.

"The smallest disruptions can lead to delays," said Erler. "It's a situation that certainly requires a lot of understanding from our customers. We won't get everything perfect." Despite the high demand, Easyjet had already taken several flights from the summer program a few weeks ago. "Our plan was to bring our capacities across the network back close to the 2019 figures," said Erler. "We now have to make a few cuts. We are currently planning with almost 90 percent of the flight capacities from before the crisis."

Not only the airlines, but also the affiliated airport service providers lack "qualified personnel who would enable capacities to be ramped up quickly to the desired level of demand after the crisis," said a spokeswoman for Wisag. The service provider is one of three companies that take care of passenger handling, apron services and cleaning work at BER, among other things.

At Wisag itself, however, there is no acute shortage of staff, the spokeswoman emphasized. "Rather, we are staffed in such a way that we can meet the handling requirements of our customers, even with the current increase in traffic." The current sickness rate corresponds to the annual average. At the same time, the same applies at Wisag: large numbers of staff absenteeism due to illness "could not be easily compensated for".

At Swissport, another ground service provider at BER, the personnel situation is also "basically stable", it said on request. "Swissport is confident of being able to cover the planned air traffic during the summer at BER." Despite all the precautions, there can be longer waiting times at check-in or at baggage claim during peak travel times, especially on peak days. The third provider, Aeroground Berlin, also made a similar statement when asked.

However, travelers not only have to be prepared for long waiting times and delays. Flight tickets are also becoming more expensive. On the one hand, high demand meets a still limited supply. Added to this are the increased costs for the companies that pass them on to the travelers. No airline worldwide can currently avoid at least partially passing on the enormous increase in costs in view of record high oil prices, the airline Eurowings said on request. "The bottom line is that the airlines are still facing massive burdens from the increased kerosene prices."

This Thursday, BER boss Aletta von Massenbach wants to provide information on how the airport company in Schönefeld will deal with the current challenges and what passengers can expect in the coming weeks. The federal government has promised a short-term remedy: It wants to allow thousands of foreign temporary workers to enter the country in order to recruit urgently needed personnel.

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