Why Lufthansa is canceling 900 flights

Recently in Frankfurt: a long line at the security check. Only one of a dozen locks is open. When a passenger whose flight has already been called to board wants to be let in, a fight almost ensues. On another day: The line to the service center reaches Gate A 16, an estimated 200 meters. People are queuing because 13 flights have just had to be canceled, according to Lufthansa internally.

There is chaos at the airports in Germany and Europe these days. After the corona pandemic had more or less paralyzed air traffic for about a year and a half, demand has recently returned in one fell swoop, especially among holidaymakers who had to stay at home during the crisis and now want to catch up on their trips. The summer promised to be really good business for the airlines, especially since they recently raised prices sharply. But now it turns out that there is a lack of staff everywhere. There aren’t enough baggage handlers, security checkers, ground staff behind the counters or flight attendants at airports.

Instead of canceling ad hoc flights, Lufthansa wants to thin out the flight plan in advance in order to be able to fly the rest properly. The airline announced that it intends to remove 900 connections from the program in Frankfurt and Munich in July. Flights within Europe are affected from Friday to Sunday, i.e. the days of the week when a particularly large number of people want to go on vacation. The affected passengers will be rebooked. Group subsidiary Eurowings is also canceling several hundred flights. Since there is no quick improvement in sight, there is a risk of something similar for August.

According to the group, Lufthansa and Eurowings have implemented numerous measures to ensure the greatest possible stability of the flight schedule. “However, it is foreseeable that due to the bottlenecks, the flight plans cannot be flown as hoped.”

Internally it bangs. The employees accuse the management of the group of being incompetent because it had been foreseeable for a long time that the existing staff would not be sufficient. “It was possible to keep everyone on board with short-time work benefits until March 2022,” complains one. “Politicians have come up with an almost perfect timing for us here. This penalty without a goalkeeper was botched by our management.” Lufthansa had cut around 34,000 of 140,000 jobs worldwide since the beginning of 2020.

It is not to be expected that the situation will improve quickly, neither at Lufthansa nor at airports and suppliers. Not only are there currently too few employees, it is proving to be extremely difficult to find new ones. The jobs on the ground and in the aircraft cabin are not financially attractive for newcomers. Many who have reoriented themselves during the crisis find that they are better off elsewhere and do not return.

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