Government officials and aviation industry executives have proposed a series of measures to end massive flight delays that plagued air traffic in Germany this summer.

“A situation like this summer should not be repeated. I will not accept it again for such an accumulation of technical problems, delays and security check problems,” German Minster of Transportation Andreas Scheuer said at an aviation summit in Hamburg Oct. 5.

Lufthansa Group chairman & CEO Carsten Spohr, who had said Aug. 28 that his company accepted “a large share” of responsibility for the disruptions in German air traffic this summer, said his airline will provide additional aircraft and crews at major German airports and create a total of 600 additional jobs to improve quality.

According to the news agency dpa, Lufthansa has spent about €250 million ($287 million) this summer on compensation payments to passengers and is ready to invest the same amount of money.

Specifically, Lufthansa LCC Eurowings plans to have up to six standby aircraft available to optimize schedules in summer 2019. If individual flights are delayed too long, Eurowings will use these aircraft from the middle of the day onward on short notice to bring the daily flight schedule back on track.

In addition, Lufthansa plans to shift more heavy maintenance work to the lower-demand winter season.

“We have a degree of delays and flight cancellations that is no longer acceptable,” Hamburg mayor Peter Tschentscher said. Aviation is a complex system with many actors. “The good news is that we can therefore start in many places,” he said.

Other challenges facing the Germany aviation industry are shortages of air traffic controllers and security delays.

The DFS (Deutsche Flugsicherung) air traffic control center in Karlsruhe experienced staff shortages this summer that created delays affecting many parts of the European air traffic network. 

Frankfurt Airport will set up 10 new security control lines and other German airports plan to provide additional space for security checks.

Above all, officials at the summit said information on delays should be delivered to passengers early and comprehensively. Among the plans is to develop an app that allows passengers to claim for flight delay compensation.

“I am very satisfied that we have taken an important step together,” Scheuer added. Even before the summer timetable comes into force next year, a similar meeting will be held to discuss the first interim result. “The sky is getting tight and we feel it,” Scheuer said.

Kurt Hofmann