BERLIN, Germany: A German Interior Ministry spokesperson has said that in a bid to relieve airports overwhelmed by staff shortages during the busy summer travel season, the country is seeking to hire foreign workers as quickly as possible.
At a government news conference in Berlin, the official said temporary workers, who would be offered accommodation and a standard wage, would have to undergo the same security and reliability checks as do all staff, which will take some two weeks to process.
As travel returns to normal after COVID-19 lockdowns, and airports and airlines continue having trouble maintaining enough staff to handle the crunch, travelers across Europe will likely face long queues this summer.
The ADV airport association said some one-in-five jobs in security, check-in and aircraft handling remain unfilled.
Airports are expected to announce their needs in the coming days.
In an interview with Reuters, Thomas Richter, head of the ABL association of aircraft ground handling employees, said he expects between 1,000 and 2,000 workers will be allowed in the country for three months, most likely beginning in August.
"A time limit of a maximum of six months until the end of the year would have been nice. It does not solve the problem, but it certainly helps," he added.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser stressed that there would be no compromises to ensuring airport security, despite this being at odds with the need to bring in help quickly.
However, Andreas Rosskopf, the chairman of Germany's police union, warned against hiring foreign workers in positions requiring additional security, but said they could be used for jobs such as baggage handling.
"We are talking about people who have to be intensively screened and briefed, in terms of security. That takes a certain amount of time," he told the Rheinische Post newspaper.