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This is how Hamburg Airport wants to organize the holiday season – with as few traffic jams as possible

Hamburg Airport is expecting a total of around 13.

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This is how Hamburg Airport wants to organize the holiday season – with as few traffic jams as possible

Hamburg Airport is expecting a total of around 13.8 million passengers this year. That is about 80 percent of the passengers who flew to and from Hamburg in 2019, in the last year before the pandemic. So in a way, the airport is on its way back to normal. But normality after the pandemic has in many respects nothing to do with that of the pre-Corona period.

The airport is working at all levels to avoid congestion and complications with passengers and baggage, which marked the 2022 season, said Michael Eggenschwiler, CEO of Hamburg Airport on Tuesday. The airport expects 210,000 passengers per week for the Hamburg “ski holidays” at the beginning of March. During the Easter holidays in April, the number of passengers increases to 270,000 per week. For the summer holidays in the north in July and August, Hamburg Airport expects up to 350,000 passengers a week and 2,500 take-offs and landings. "We want to make flying as easy as possible," says Eggenschwiler. "We have a more stable planning than in the summer of 2022, which makes me confident that we will do better than last year."

In previous years, Hamburg Airport has channeled significantly more passengers through its system. But with the pandemic, conditions have changed completely. Bookings are made much more quickly than before. That is why the airlines are increasingly using larger aircraft. The most important "measurement aircraft" for calculating the number of passengers in Hamburg in recent years was the Airbus A319 with up to 155 seats. The A320 with up to 180 seats and the A321 with up to 220 seats are now gaining more and more share in flight operations. "Passenger traffic always comes in waves here," says Eggenschwiler, "and at the peak of the waves we now have hourly higher passenger numbers than before the pandemic."

The system no longer follows the relatively uniform processes it used to - the situation at the airport is similar to that in the international supply chains with all their upheavals in the past three years. In addition to the greater imponderables, the airport also has to deal with fewer staff than before. Most of the Hamburg Airport workforce was on short-time work in 2020 and 2021. Many of those employees, especially those who used to work flexibly part-time at the airport, have now left the company. "The labor market is still very tight," says Eggenschwiler. "It's fundamentally difficult. to get staff.”

For the summer season, they are trying again to recruit employees from Greece for baggage handling, with whom they had “very good experiences” last year, says Eggenschwiler. At the same time, it is hoped that the recruitment of temporary employees from Turkey this year will receive more response than the rather short-term recruitment in 2022. Longer employment contracts of six to eight months and a better legal basis should contribute to this. "Basically, all employees get a starting salary of 15 to 16 euros per hour, including those who we recruit for a temporary job abroad," says Eggenschwiler.

However, it is primarily the passengers who are at the center of the action. Eggenschwiler encourages air travelers to check themselves in early and use the 30 baggage machines at the airport to check in their luggage themselves. Eleven airlines participate in automatic baggage check-in. According to Eggenschwiler, Emirates, Ryanair, Wizz Air and Turkish Airlines are not included.

The new “Slot

One of the biggest problems of the past year, the uncoordinated return of so-called "rush" baggage, Eggenschwiler wants to avoid this year with a whole bundle of measures: "We have escalated the issue at a very high level with the airlines, which is a major focus on it. Passengers from Hamburg travel relatively far around the world.” The problem with this: When returning home, a lot of luggage got stuck at the air hubs like in London or Paris in the past pandemic years and was only flown to Hamburg much later than the passengers.

Large, uncoordinated quantities of this “ghost baggage”, some of which the airlines brought to Hamburg in batches, then accumulated in various halls at the airport for weeks – mainly because there were not enough employees to clear the traffic jam. According to Eggenschwiler, two to five full-time employees were constantly busy moving such luggage from the regular arrival area to storage areas last year. That shouldn't be repeated this year. There are currently up to 800 employees in baggage handling. 100 more employees are currently being sought at home and abroad.

The airport is also going on the offensive in the major area of ​​cleaning. Eggenschwiler says that women from the Ukraine who could possibly be deployed there this travel season are also being specifically approached for the cleaning of aircraft cabins. In turn, women are generally not allowed to work in baggage handling for reasons of occupational safety.

However, Hamburg Airport is increasingly relying on technology for cleaning the halls. The cleaning robot “Franzi” will soon be used in a pilot project. If the test is successful, says Eggenschwiler, more machines will be purchased.

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