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Travelers from Salzburg Airport experienced flight cancellation because the crews reported sick on short notice, including from COVID-19, Source: Salzburg Airport on Facebook

Salzburg airport becomes a bottleneck for vacation travel

Salzburg airport becomes a bottleneck for vacation travel

Staff shortages in Lufthansa are already causing unexpected flight cancellations, apart from the 900 cancelled flights for July

Last weekend, hundreds of airline passengers were left stranded at Salzburg Airport in Austria after a wave of unexpected flight cancellations by Lufthansa’s subsidiary – Eurowings. Earlier this month, Lufthansa announced its plans to cancel 900 flights between Frankfurt and Munich alone.

According to the airline, the cancellations will mainly affect flights on weekends in July, which bodes ill for the EU’s recovering tourism sector after two years of struggle and strife, as the affected routes mainly concern holiday trips.

The Europe-wide staff shortage in the aviation industry

According to multiple sources, the EU is now facing a wide staff shortage in the sector mainly brought on by the pandemic. Similar to the shipping container shortage from lack of demand last winter, which caused bottlenecks at ports around the world, airlines have had to scale down their operations significantly over the past two years.

With lockdowns and various travel restrictions, airlines were forced to make layoffs - so, many professionals handling passenger control, aircraft, flight attendants and more have moved on to different industries altogether.

Ralph Beisel, the general manager of the German airport association, ADV, speaking to Tagesschaui, explained that service providers have, on average, 20% less staff on the ground than before the pandemic.

Experts warn that this can cause chaos during the travelling season, apart from reduced flight availability. One significant concern is the ongoing Covid pandemic, despite the fact that it is relatively under control at the moment. Both German and Austrian health authorities report a slight spike in new cases, while German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, warned of an impending ‘summer wave’.

Stranded passengers in Salzburg

According to a report by the ORF, the Austrian broadcasting service, 300 to 400 people were stuck at Salzburg Airport after a wave of cancellations, many on Eurowings flights. Matthias Eberle, an airline spokesman, explained that the abrupt turn of events was caused by the crews reporting sick on short notice, while the airline itself did not have the reserves to deal with the situation.

Alexander Klaus, a spokesman for the operating company at Salzburg Airport, explained that a good way for people to protect themselves during the travel season would be to book their trips through tour operators and travel agencies. This is because, with the added safety net of the agency, travellers would have alternative offers for starting and ending their trips.

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