Frankfurt Airport operator says staff shortages may mean months of disruptions

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FRANKFURT, July 6 (Reuters) – Frankfurt Airport, Germany’s busiest air transport hub, is unlikely to see relief for a crippling staff shortage in the coming months, its operator Fraport said.

“The problem will not get smaller going forward, even though we are hiring. I say that very openly,” said Fraport Chief Executive Stefan Schulte told a media briefing in Frankfurt on Tuesday evening.

He said disruptions due to a lack of workers would continue for the next two or three months.

Fraport has already rehired nearly 1,000 new ground services employees after cutting about 4,000 during the pandemic.

Schulte said that the situation would not be resolved even if a few hundred new employees or temporary workers from abroad were to be deployed.

The number of people employed at German airports recently fell to its lowest level in seven years, the federal statistics office said on Wednesday, citing preliminary data.

Schulte apologised to passengers for long wait times, but said Fraport and other operators has been caught off guard by the swift surge in demand for travel and said it was difficult to ramp up airport operations in such a short time.

At peak times, crowds were as big as before the coronavirus pandemic hammered the industry, he said, adding: “That did surprise us. That’s where I openly admit we were wrong.”

(Reporting by Ilona Wissenbach and Klaus Lauer; Writing by Miranda Murray; Editing by Edmund Blair)

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