Airport backlogs caused by rising demand, labor shortages — travel experts

Tallinn Airport.
Tallinn Airport. Source: Tallinn Airport

Delays at airports across Europe have been caused by a sudden surge in demand coupled with a labor shortage, Estonian experts have said.

Air traffic has returned to pre-pandemic levels, Eero Pärgmäe, Commercial Director of Tallinn Airport told Thursday's "Aktuaalne kaamera".

"In May last year, we served 54,000 passengers for the whole month and 271,000 passengers in May this year. That's more than five times the amount. In five months we've served more than 900,000 passengers. We're on schedule for 2.5 million passengers. The jump in comparison with covid times is very very big," he said.

Charter flights to European countries such as Turkey, Greece and Montenegro are sold out as people's fears about traveling subside, Vice President of the Estonian Association of Travel Agents Sven Lõokene said.

"Because of Covid, people were afraid to make travel plans for a long time, now the situation has arisen that [tickets for] all the most in-demand periods, such as the autumn school holidays, New Year's Eve, are already being bought and prices are already high in many places," he told AK.

Tallinn Airport is also suffering from a labor shortage and passengers are advised to expect queues to be longer when traveling.

Lõokene said it is not easy to find new employees at the moment as many people laid off in 2020 and 2021 have changed professions and retrained.

 "It requires skilled people and basic training takes [several] weeks. It takes a year or more to become a good travel consultant. The same is true in other sectors, there is a shortage of labor everywhere and it is being felt now," he said. 

Pärgmäe said peak passenger hours are between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. on weekdays and at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays and Sundays.

"First, check-in at home, secondly, be sure to arrive at the airport two hours in advance, and thirdly, remember the rules for hand luggage - what you can and cannot take with you. Then you don't have to unpack it in security and save yourself and other passengers time," he advised.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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