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Berlin/Brandenburg: Difficult Days Expected at BER Airport

Finally! Berlin and Brandenburg are on vacation. Sandy beaches and other holiday destinations are waiting. Everyone is prepared, except for BER Airport.

Berlin, July 7th, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — An elegant, new airport was inaugurated in Schönefeld, Brandenburg, less than two years ago. Its big Terminal 1 alone has a capacity of 28 million passengers per year. In combination with the much smaller Terminal 2, handling 30 million passengers per year, or 82,000 per day, should not be a problem at all, in theory.

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Wakeup Call

But this is about the building and its infrastructure only. You can have the best airport in the solar system. But if you do not employ the staff needed, it will not work too well. During the first part of the Corona crisis, when hardly anyone flew because of lockdowns and the danger of infection, and due to the fact that most international borders were closed, many airport security agents were dismissed.

Today, the pandemic is still here, but the security staffers needed to handle all the passengers who are flying are not. Earlier this year, during the Easter vacations, the problem already popped up. Thousands of vacationers had to wait in long lines. Some did not make it onto their flights. This was a wakeup call, but apparently one that was ignored.

Hurdles Dumped

On Wednesday, school kids in Berlin and Brandenburg got their report cards. The six-week summer vacations in both federal states commence today. This means that families will be flying to Spain, France, Italy, Turkey and other nice holiday destinations. Because there are not enough security agents and other staffers, checking in and getting to the gate is expected to be a quite a challenge.

Now that a total of six federal states already are on vacation, including the two mentioned above, Hamburg, North-Rhine-Westphalia, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Hither Pomerania, there finally is a reaction. Germany’s Federal Employment Agency just made the hiring of ground personnel for German airports in Turkey a lot easier by dumping some bureaucratic hurdles. Up to 2,000 Turks who have worked at airports before are supposed to be hired in Germany.

Beach Towels

But, will this help with the chaos expected at BER Airport these days? No. Will it help Hamburg Airport to handle all of those vacationers with suitcases full of beach towels it is expecting today, tomorrow and this coming weekend? No. Will it help Düsseldorf Airport and Cologne/Bonn Airport with the mess that developed in late June, when the vacations commenced in North Rhine-Westphalia? No. Hiring ground staff takes time. The steps the authorities are taking are delayed, just like the flights that are waiting for passengers stuck in security checks.

At BER Airport, this will be a busy day, to say the least. Tomorrow, things will be worse. Aletta von Massenbach, the airport’s CEO, said 80,000 passengers were expected to take off or land on Friday. Yes, the airport itself can handle this load easily, unless it does not have the required staff. So, it remains to be seen how bad the chaos will be.

Security Checks

In the meantime, BER Airport keeps on sending out statements with recommendations for passengers. They are supposed to be there two and a half hours ahead of their flights’ departure times. Also, they are being asked to use check-in machines whenever possible or check in on the eve of their flights. This is an option for Lufthansa and Eurowings passengers. Those who have to check in at counters are supposed to prepare all their documents and hold them in their hands once it is their turn. Furthermore, people are supposed to head to the security checks (yes, the spots that lack the personnel required) immediately once they are done checking in.

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