Rand 900 in one fell swoop – Deutsche Lufthansa is canceling that many flights from its plan for the month of July. On the routes of the subsidiary Eurowings, there should be a three-digit number of cancellations. In this way, the group is resisting a feared flight chaos in summer, which passengers have already had a foretaste of in the past few weeks with long queues and delays.
Fewer flights should now relieve the entire aviation system. After job cuts during the Corona crisis, there is a shortage of staff everywhere for the first major summer of travel since the pandemic began – in airport logistics, at counters, security checks and on terminal aprons.
With the cancellations by Lufthansa, the focus is now also on airlines that had previously referred to the staffing shortages of service providers on the ground due to bottlenecks and delays. The German airports had admitted that in their own operations and in those of external service providers, every fifth position was currently vacant.
Lufthansa, on the other hand, rejects the fact that the airline has too few staff. “We have no bottlenecks that mean that we cannot manage flights,” says a spokeswoman. That means at least that staff would have been found for every connection – even if pilots had to be persuaded to work an extra shift. On the employee side, a more dramatic picture is painted. “We know that flights are also canceled due to a lack of pilots,” said the union Cockpit (VC) union. The bottlenecks for flying personnel are smaller than for ground personnel, but they are definitely there.
“Many of us are at the breaking point”
Staffing levels are thin across the industry. Weeks ago, the VC warned of the consequences of a “failed personnel policy” for the summer. “It has long been clear that the radical job cuts in many areas of aviation would have a negative impact on the recovery,” complained VC President Stefan Herth. The executive floor of the holiday airline Condor has meanwhile received a joint letter from all the unions involved in the company – the flight attendant organization UFO, Verdi and VC. “Summer is going to be tough, as can already be seen in the cancellations due to staff shortages and the mass of flying hours that are piling up. Many of us are already at the individual limit,” it says. This causes frustration and anger, employees have already burst into tears.
UFO has warning words for Lufthansa. “We want planning to be sensible and not to the last groove,” explains the union on its website: “If peak loads cannot be avoided, then they must at least be paid.” During the pandemic, the employees would have waived their benefits. The whole thing is under the heading: “Unbeautiful Summer”.
The Lufthansa cancellations are concentrated on the weekdays Friday to Sunday, 5 percent of the weekend capacity will be canceled in traffic to and from the Frankfurt and Munich hubs, explains the spokeswoman. Above all, short trips are canceled for which travelers can be rebooked on the train. There shouldn’t be any complications because of the 9-euro ticket, since passengers are allowed to use long-distance trains.
Further deletions may follow
A cessation of holiday flights to the Mediterranean, which Eurowings in particular has in the plan, would create greater resentment. On top of that, there would probably be trouble with travel companies that have booked large contingents with tens of thousands of seats for package tour customers. Behind the scenes, however, it is already agreed that what has now become known does not yet contain all the cuts of the summer. There could still be flight cancellations and the next cross-off list for the month of August.