After the corona pandemic: 7,200 airport employees are missing

Status: 06/22/2022 1:01 p.m

Very little was flown during the corona pandemic, and many employees looked for new jobs. That is why there is now a lack of specialists: there are around 7,200 employees at German airports.

Flight cancellations are increasing, travelers have to expect delays and queues. According to a study, around 7,200 skilled workers are currently missing at German airports. At the same time, according to a study by the German Economic Institute (IW), there are “no more reserves on the labor market” to fill these gaps in air and ground personnel.

She takes a close look at the effects of the Corona crisis on the sector, which had suffered greatly from the restrictions. From the end of 2019, air traffic was increasingly restricted due to the pandemic, and at times passenger traffic came to an almost complete standstill. The authors emphasized that staff had to be cut back, many employees reoriented themselves and are now not returning to their jobs.

Service staff and flight attendants are missing

Now that flying is possible again, few staff meet high demand and there are “significantly more vacancies than unemployed people,” said the IW. Accordingly, the number of employees in aviation shrank by around four percent between 2019 and 2021.

According to the information, the area of ​​​​service specialists in air traffic, including flight attendants, is particularly affected. The number of employees here fell by 15 percent from the pre-crisis period of 2018/2019 to 2020/2021, despite short-time work. The number of so-called skilled workers in technical air traffic operations, which includes aircraft handlers, for example, fell by 12.9 percent over the same period.

Many skilled workers found new jobs

The situation is better for the pilots, where the number of employees fell by only 1.5 percent. According to the study, their knowledge can hardly be transferred to other fields of work. Specialists in customer service and logistics, on the other hand, would have had comparatively good chances of finding a new job, for example in train traffic or in online trade, which is booming due to the pandemic.

The resulting gaps are not easy to fill, as the study shows: In April 2022, there were around 888 vacancies for service specialists in air transport across Germany, but only 846 suitably qualified unemployed people – this results in a so-called skilled worker gap of 42 people. In technical air traffic operations, this gap is even larger at 633.

And the shortage of skilled workers is likely to worsen, because according to the study, not as many planes are taking off as before the Corona crisis. In addition, several airlines had to cancel flights planned for the summer due to a lack of staff, including Lufthansa. “A smooth start to the summer vacation is likely to remain an unrealistic hope for many,” warned IW economist Alexander Burstedde. “In the medium term, the industry must work to become more attractive as an employer again.”

Ver.di: The workload has increased

According to the trade union ver.di, this shortage has increased the workload of the remaining employees extremely. The union is therefore demanding higher wages for Lufthansa ground staff. This could make it easier to find urgently needed additional staff. Behle described the situation of the Lufthansa ground staff as precarious. More than a third of the jobs were cut during the Corona crisis. This work would have to be taken over by the remaining employees now that flight operations are ramping up quickly.

With its drastic reduction in staff, Lufthansa itself has ensured that the ramp-up does not succeed properly. “The passengers pay the bill for this, but above all the employees, who are exposed to the annoyance of the passengers every day.”

Demand: 9.5 percent more salary

Ver.di is demanding a salary increase of 9.5 percent for around 20,000 Lufthansa employees on the ground. There must be at least an increase in the monthly salary of 350 euros for a one-year term of the collective agreement, as the union announced. “After three years of wage cuts, the employees have been hit particularly hard by the high inflation rate. That’s why it’s now important to keep the employees at Lufthansa with significant wage increases and to attract new employees with attractive salaries,” explained the deputy ver.di boss and Vice Chairwoman of the Lufthansa Supervisory Board, Christine Behle. The first round of negotiations is scheduled for June 30th.

Lufthansa: Debts, high kerosene prices, Ukraine war

Lufthansa said it was willing to negotiate, but the amount and duration of the claim was difficult to understand given the company’s current situation. “The challenges of the group are not taken into account,” it said in a statement. The debts that increased during the Corona crisis would have to be paid off. In addition, high kerosene prices and the war in Ukraine posed economic risks.

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