Mr. Schulte, Lufthansa has calculated that the delays are particularly long in Frankfurt. Why can’t you match the punctuality values of other airports?
Schulte: Around 100 airlines fly to us, we are the airport with the highest proportion of transfer passengers and the most connected destinations in all of Europe. In good times this is always praised, currently it is a disadvantage. Any unpunctuality at airports in Europe affects Frankfurt.
Yes, our values are currently in the basement, which annoys us all. However, it is also a fact that at such a highly networked hub, every small disruption increases to a much greater extent than at a smaller airport. It is all the more important that we do everything we can to bring more stability back into the overall air traffic system.
Mr. Ritter, passengers not only complain about delays, but also about short-term cancellations. How do you want to stabilize Lufthansa operations?
Ritter: It is important for me to explain that we have an industry-wide problem. We are experiencing delays at other major airports as well as in Frankfurt, and that is why many other airlines that operate at the major transfer airports are also affected. But at the moment it’s all about relieving the system. That’s why we canceled around 3,000 flights early for the summer.
And most recently, since yesterday, we are reducing our offer again until next Thursday, especially in the afternoon and evening during the so-called peaks, when many flights take off at the same time. That’s about 770 flights for this limited period. We will then assess the extent to which the measures are effective. During these times, the delays that have arisen during the day are particularly piling up.
This brings more calm to the processes, we prevent day-to-day cancellations, and the employees who are currently doing an incredible job are given the opportunity to breathe deeply after all the overtime and extra shifts. We are working hard to ensure that the situation at least stabilizes quickly.
How long do passengers have to expect short-term cancellations?
Ritter: There can always be, for example due to airspace closures. But through the adjustments we want to become more robust and inform passengers early on and offer them alternative travel options in good time. In particular, we therefore look at short domestic routes and connections that we often fly. We rebook our affected guests on the train or other flights.
Canceling domestic flights for transfer passengers reduces the pressure on Lufthansa’s flight operations. At Frankfurt Airport it increases because passengers have not already gone through the baggage counter and security check at another airport.
Knight: We carefully consider each measure. But check-in and baggage acceptance do not burden the airport, these are the airline’s responsibilities. We have many colleagues in administration who are trained to work at airport stations. We ask them to work there during peak hours.
The German airports want to temporarily employ 2,000 workers from Turkey. Will the plan still help this summer?
Schulte: We hope so. But regardless of whether the plan still helps for the summer peak or in late summer, we urgently need an opening of the labor market. Otherwise, it will become increasingly difficult to find sufficient workers for German companies.
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