Frankfurt Airport has been forced to curtail some freighter flights as the labour shortage bites.

Airlines were told on Friday that Fraport’s ground handling arm, BVD, was “severely limited”, owing to traffic peaks, schedule changes and limited staff.

“As a further measure to relieve the ground handling services during these traffic peaks and to stabilise handling at FRA, [handler] BVD is asking certain cargo airlines not to route flights through Frankfurt until the end of August.”

BVD said the capacity restrictions would affect Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Fraport told The Loadstar BVD was “in contact with individual cargo airline partners to pro-actively cancel individual flights to and from FRA, or reschedule flights in advance to periods when traffic volumes are lower”.

Lufthansa Cargo confirmed it had to cancel four flights on Friday and encountered delays on Saturday and Sunday. However, added a spokesperson, while “we are monitoring the situation very carefully, at the moment we are not considering other airports”.

Lufthansa said it had embargoed animal and passive-cooled shipments until Sunday 10 July, “at least”, and added: “We’ve organised more storage capacity for freight at Frankfurt Airport, and will rebook all shipments at the best possibility.”

The airline had already been forced to cut its passenger schedule from last month, but said this was the first time freighter flights had been affected.

“All partners at Frankfurt Airport are working close together to find the best possible solutions for the situation,” added the spokesperson.

A spokesperson for Fraport explained to The Loadstar: “We are experiencing extreme traffic peaks at Frankfurt Airport – with arriving and departing flights spread unevenly through the working day.

“At times, FRA’s traffic is almost back to the pre-pandemic levels of 2019, particularly during the early morning hours and at noon. Furthermore, flights are often rescheduled at short notice, due to external factors such as weather or delays related to air traffic control. As a result, we require additional staff outside the planned duty rosters.

“To remedy this situation, some airlines are pro-actively cancelling individual passenger and cargo flights or rescheduling flights in advance to periods when traffic volumes are lower. The goal of these measures is to stabilise FRA’s operations during peak times for the benefit of all stakeholders.

“However, this does not imply that ground handling services at FRA have been suspended at any time – neither for freighter or passenger aircraft.”

Noting that cargo will be affected by disruptions, longer wait times and flight cancellations, the spokesperson added: “We are also doing our best to process cargo as quickly and efficiently as possible. In addition, we have intensified our recruiting programme, especially for hiring ground services specialists.”

Fraport is currently trying to recruit 1,000 people for the remainder of the year, and has already added 870 staff in the past year.

But the spokesperson warned: “It takes time until new employees can provide noticeable relief. Our new recruits need to undergo extensive background security checks, as well as necessary specialised training before being deployed at the airport.”

And airports across Europe are feeling the pinch, making it hard for airlines to re-route freighters.

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