Congestion in European airports at the gates of a record summer

Hundreds of suitcases accumulated at Heathrow airport (London) due to lack of staff. / Reuters

To the problems in passport controls are now added the strikes and the lack of personnel of some airlines that fired many workers in the pandemic

Edurne Martinez

A "complicated" summer is presented at European airports. The CEO of IAG, Luis Gallego, already announced it last week during the shareholders' meeting. There is more to see the situation of the main airports this week, where the lack of personnel of many airlines has generated that the baggage claim belts, the check-in points are congested and hundreds of flights are canceled.

And all this at the gates of a summer that promises to be like those before the pandemic with occupations that have not been seen since 2019 thanks to the end of mobility restrictions. But several large airlines are having no choice but to cancel flights due to lack of staff due to the avalanche of layoffs that occurred during covid, which reduces their capacity to operate.

This is a problem that does not occur in Spain, where, thanks to the ERTE, personnel were not fired but "they were adjusted depending on the needs," sources from the Association of Air Lines (ALA) explain to this newspaper, which is why they consider that the situation of European and Spanish airports is "very different".

The airline representative association explains that the problem is quite localized in the United Kingdom (especially at London Gatwick airport) because although they had a mechanism similar to the ERTE, it only lasted until September 2021 and at that time a lot of staff were laid off. , which to recover now is difficult. "Brexit makes it difficult to incorporate European staff because they have to ask for more documentation and accreditation, and also the arrival of new workers takes time to train them," they explain from ALA.

But although it is not a Spanish problem, passengers bound for our country are the ones who are encountering cancellations and congestion. In London alone, British Airways has had to cut 10% of its flights until October. In Amsterdam there is also congestion at Schipol airport due to lack of staff and in Frankfurt there is also the problem of strikes.

Police reinforcement eases controls in Spain

In Spain, the problem denounced by the airlines has been the lack of enough police officers at passport controls for passengers arriving from countries outside the EU, such as the United Kingdom. Faced with the avalanche of tourists with the end of the restrictions, these controls have sometimes been overwhelmed with passengers having to queue for more than 45 minutes, causing more than 15,000 people to miss their connecting flight since March 1 , assured Iberia a few weeks ago.

The response of the Ministry of the Interior was to announce the arrival of 500 more police officers at the passport controls of twelve airports, although they pointed out that it was not motivated by this congestion situation, which they described as "very punctual". From Iberia they assure that the Spanish airports are already working much better and that they must be given "a little margin" to the police reinforcement in the controls that began this week. Even so, they recognize that the summer will be "very complicated" in airports around the world, which will affect Spain because many of our tourists arrive from London, Germany and Amsterdam.

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