It was at the beginning of the year when German airports and airlines made a big promise: This summer there will be no repeat of last year’s flight chaos. At the same time, the air traffic control authority Eurocontrol warned of exactly this scenario. Now the peak travel season is coming to an end – and it’s worth taking an initial assessment: How did things really go at German airports in the first (almost) normal year of travel after the pandemic?

The good news first: The travel chaos that occurred at many German airports in 2022 did not occur. However, air traffic didn’t go entirely smoothly. According to current data from the passenger rights portal “Flightright”, almost every third flight (30.53 percent) took off across Europe with a delay of at least 15 minutes. In the recently published SITA report “Passenger IT Insights 2023”, more than half of those surveyed stated that they had been affected by delays or flight cancellations.

According to Claudia Brosche, passenger rights expert at “Flightright”, there is one reason for this in addition to a lack of staff and a high volume of travel in the summer: “The majority of airlines have still not completely solved their internal problems – much to the chagrin of the air travelers who end up having to We were left behind and had to deal with long waiting times or flight cancellations.”

But climate change also had an impact on air traffic: forest fires, floods or other natural disasters were considered to be the reason for flight cancellations and delays at an above-average rate. In countries such as Italy, Spain and Germany there have also been repeated strikes at airports, which in turn are also reflected in the statistics.

With a cancellation rate of 1.48 percent, Germany ends up in the inglorious third place among the countries with the most flight cancellations. There were only more failures in Switzerland (1.5 percent) and Great Britain (1.58 percent). Switzerland also takes top spot in terms of delays (34.32 percent), closely followed by Portugal (32.06 percent) and Great Britain (31.42 percent).

In total, around three million flights to and from Germany were planned for the summer month of July alone. This corresponds to around 90 percent of the number of flights in 2019. Given the stagnating shortage of personnel in air traffic, there were still chaotic conditions at airports. The airport staff was particularly challenged on July 6, 2023. There were around 35,000 commercial flights over Europe that day – more than ever before in one day.

And all forecasts for the future show that the desire to travel will not diminish any time soon. Air travel remains popular despite rising prices and possible wait times. Air passenger rights expert Claudia Brosche therefore demands in a statement: “Airlines should finally act to offer the promised service, for which they are paying dearly with increased ticket prices. After all, passengers deserve better than waiting for hours at the airport or missing vacation days due to a flight cancellation.”

Source: Flightright, German Aerospace Center, SITA, Eurocontrol