Vienna airport reassures travellers over summer holiday concerns

After scenes of airport chaos in Europe, including in Austria, the capital's airport authority has moved to reassure traveller it will be able to cope with the summer rush.

Vienna airport reassures travellers over summer holiday concerns
As travel resumes, airliners and airports have had difficulty coping (Photo by VOO QQQ on Unsplash)

Europe has seen scenes of airport chaos over the past few weeks, with the most recent example being the 500 travellers left stranded at Austria’s Salzburg Airport on Sunday, June 19th, due to flight cancellations.

However, Vienna airport has reassured travellers it is prepared for the summer.

The spokesperson for the Vienna International Airport has told Austrian media that they currently have about 80 percent of personnel from before the pandemic – while passenger levels are at about 65 to 70 percent of those from 2019.

READ ALSO: Will Austria see travel chaos in airports this summer?

Vienna Schwechat Airport says there were no staff cuts during the pandemic, though some workers quit and others retired.

Also, Austrian Airlines said it has hired 150 new cabin staff for the spring and summer seasons and is “ready for take-off into a summer in full operation”.

Problems can still arise

“In Vienna, our partners and we succeeded, particularly through the instrument of short-time work, to keep as many personnel as possible in employment. Unfortunately, however, this is not the case at many other airports we also serve,” explained Austria Airlines spokeswoman Sophie Matkovits.

Even though airports and Austrian airlines are fully operational, they are not solely responsible for the flights. The companies stress that local operators can’t influence the situation at other airport locations.

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

It was the case with the Salzburg flights, according to Salzburg Airport’s spokesperson, Alexander Klaus. He said that most of the flights affected were from the Lufthansa Group, which has scrapped 900 planned flights for July to avoid cancelling at short notice.

He also mentioned there were significant staff shortages at Frankfurt and Nuremberg airports, even though Salzburg Airport is sufficiently staffed: “When one link in this chain starts to swing, you feel it everywhere,” he said.

Vienna Airport recommends checking the flight status and planning more time than usual for departure on intense travel days.

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EU delays passport scan system and €7 travel fee until 2023

Two major changes that were due to come into force in 2022 for travellers entering the EU - an enhanced passport scanning system and the introduction of a €7 visa for tourists - have been delayed for a year.

EU delays passport scan system and €7 travel fee until 2023

Although both the EES and ETIAS schemes are still due to be introduced in the European Commission has pushed back the start dates for both until 2023.

It comes amid a chaotic summer for travel in Europe, with airports struggling with staff shortages and strikes while some crossings from the UK to France have been hit by long delays as extra post-Brexit checks are performed during the peak holiday season. 

The two separate changes to travel in the EU and Schengen zone were originally due to come into effect in 2020, but were delayed because of the pandemic. Now the EES system is expected to come into effect in May 2023, while ETIAS will come into effect in November 2023. 

The EES – Entry and Exit System – is essentially enhanced passport scanning at the EU’s borders and means passports will not only be checked for ID and security, but also for entry and exit dates, in effect tightening up enforcement of the ’90 day rule’ that limits the amount of time non-EU citizens can spend in the Bloc without having a visa.

It will not affect non-EU citizens who live in an EU country with a residency permit or visa.

There have been concerns that the longer checks will make transiting the EU’s external borders slower, a particular problem at the UK port of Dover, where the infrastructure is already struggling to cope with enhanced post-Brexit checks of people travelling to France.

You can read a full explanation of EES, what it is and who is affects HERE.

The ETIAS system will apply to all non-EU visitors to an EU country – eg tourists, second-home owners, those making family visits and people doing short-term work.

It will involve visitors registering in advance for a visa and paying a €7 fee. The visa will be valid for three years and can be used for multiple trips – essentially the system is very similar to the ESTA visa required for visitors to the USA. 

Residents of an EU country who have a residency card or visa will not need one.

You can read the full details on ETIAS, how it works and who it affects HERE.

Both systems will apply only to people who do not have citizenship of an EU country – for example Brits, Americans, Australians and Canadians – and will be used only at external EU/Schengen borders, so it won’t be required when travelling between France and Germany, for example.