Friday

9th Dec 2016

Focus

German airports strike back at EU criticism

  • 'No airport can stick to plans when there is heavy snow,' said Munich airport (Photo: Esthr)

Germany's main airports have rejected criticism from EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas over their lack of preparedness to handle snow, as the travel chaos continues in Europe. In Britain, authorities are looking at fining airports, while the London Heathrow chief has given up his bonus amid passenger anger.

"The sudden accusations from Brussels are incomprehensible to us. We would like to invite the EU commissioner to an on-the-job-training at the airport," Stefanie Harder, spokeswoman for the Hamburg airport said, as quoted by the DPA.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Organising an airport was a "very complex matter," she argued, and security pressure was very high, as "we transport people, after all".

The EU official on Monday lashed at airports, calling their unpreparedness to deal with snow "unacceptable" as mass cancellations and delays have seen thousands of passengers stranded in terminals or scrambling to find a place on over-crowded trains and ferries.

Frankfurt, Germany's biggest airport, was particularly badly hit, and even considered sending in police to calm angry passengers. The airport was "aware of the critical tone in the media, but we don't feel concerned," its spokesman Jurgen Harrer said. With 300 people de-icing planes and lanes around the clock and 200 vehicles in service, the airport was best prepared, Mr Harrer argued. It also never lacked de-icing liquids, he pointed out, in reference to a problem seen in many European airports.

The airport in the German capital, Berlin, which was one of the hubs lacking de-freeze fluids, joined the chorus in rejecting EU criticism and blamed the supply problems on the responsible provider. "Criticism should go in that direction," a spokesman said.

In Munich, airport officials point to the fact that management plans are set out for "normal" weather conditions and "whoever thinks there is one airport in the world that can stick to those plans when there is heavy snowfall, is wrong".

British officials, however, are less sanguine about the havoc witnessed especially at London's Heathrow airport, Europe's largest air hub, which struggled to cope with the record snowfall, amid a shortage of de-icing fluids and trucks to clear all the lanes.

Under fire from passengers and media, airport chief Colin Matthews turned down his annual bonus on Tuesday, saying he was now focusing on "rebuilding confidence in Heathrow".

Meanwhile, transport minister Theresa Villiers told The Daily Telegraph that the introduction of a new "winter resilience" target which could see hefty fines imposed on airport management, had become a priority for the British government.

Fresh snowfall on Wednesday night and heavy snowstorms in Scandinavia see another round of delays and cancellations in Brussels, Amsterdam and northern Europe. In addition, fog is causing delays of up to two hours in Vienna, Prague and Athens, Eurocontrol informs.

News in Brief

  1. Italian opposition presses for anti-euro referendum
  2. Danish MP wants warning shots fired to deter migrants
  3. Defected Turkish officers to remain in Greece
  4. Most child asylum seekers are adults, says Denmark
  5. No school for children of 'illegal' migrants, says Le Pen
  6. Ombudsman slams EU Commission on tobacco lobbying
  7. McDonald's moves fiscal HQ to UK following tax probe
  8. French ex-minister jailed for tax fraud

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHow to use Bioenergy Coming from Forests in a Sustainable Way ?
  2. Counter BalanceReport Reveals Corrupt but Legal Practices in Development Finance
  3. Swedish EnterprisesMEPs and Business Representatives Debated on the Future of the EU at the Winter Mingle
  4. ACCASets Out Fifty Key Factors in the Public Sector Accountants Need to Prepare for
  5. UNICEFSchool “as Vital as Food and Medicine” for Children Caught up in Conflict
  6. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  7. CESICongress Re-elects Klaus Heeger & Romain Wolff as Secretary General & President
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  9. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  10. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  11. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  12. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First