Air travel in Western Europe has become complicated in recent times. Budapest is holding its own for the time being, and while there is no chaos, airport operators fear that the departure tax will lead to a significant drop in traffic. Read below to find out more.
The aviation sector is facing a huge labour shortage, but Budapest does not expect the same chaos as many Western European airports this summer. Budapest Airport anticipates a strong increase in traffic after two years of low tide. Based on the information received from an internal source, Napi.hu reports that the Hungarian airport employees do not plan to call a strike.
EU countries compared to Hungary
More than 191,000 airport workers across Europe lost their jobs after the COVID outbreak. This summer, the number of workers could approach 2019 levels. Augustin de Romanet, Chairman/CEO at Aeroports de Paris, said at the end of April that Charles de Gaulle and Orly Airports were facing a combined staff shortage of around 4,000 employees. The main shortages are of maintenance technicians and baggage handlers.
France’s main airport, Charles de Gaulle near Paris, went on strike for an immediate pay rise of EUR 300 EUR (HUF 120,000), cancelling a quarter of their flights, reports EuroNews. Baggage screening and boarding took longer and even those whose flights were not directly affected by the strike faced significant delays. Air France alone cancelled 85 flights that day.
On Wednesday, Ryanair workers in Italy went on strike, and thousands of EasyJet and Volotea workers in Italy also walked off the job. “This is only the first strike: this summer will be boiling,” added the Italian transport workers’ union.
Budapest attempts to steer clear
While it was confirmed that Budapest Airport’s financial situation is stable, there is a risk that the introduction of the departure tax will have a significant impact on traffic.
“So far, there is no noticeable shortage, there are no crowded queues even at the peak hours, and we often receive positive feedback from passengers that they got through the check-in line and passed security relatively quickly. Since May last year, they’ve employed nearly a hundred new people and they’re mitigating the overcrowding. Still, we’re short compared to the number of passengers we are expecting. It requires significant overtime and extra hard work on the part of the employees. The increase in charter flights from the end of June and the start of flights to the US will swamp us.” said an airport worker.
“The number of available staff in Budapest is relatively high compared to many other European airports. This is because others outsource their process, while Budapest Airport has its own staff,” says Budapest Airport. At other Western European airports, it has not been possible to replace workers. In Budapest, however, the airport managed to keep most of its staff during the epidemic by reallocating certain tasks.
In the city centre, self-service check-in points are being set up for passengers. One check-in point is already under testing at the Airport bus stop at Kálvin Square. The Deák Square check-in will soon be ready for use also.
At these points, passengers can both do the check-in and print their baggage tags in advance. Budapest Airport’s long-term plan is to allow passengers to leave their luggage at these stops, which will be taken to the plane and checked in by the airport staff.
Source: napi.hu, euronews.hu, bud.hu