DFS reacts to traffic slump

The spread of coronavirus is causing a steep decline in air traffic volumes. Since February, DFS, the German air navigation service provider, has initiated a number of measures to protect its employees and maintain air navigation services. A newly agreed collective agreement now enables the company to adjust staff numbers to match the current situation.

24.03.2020.- The number of flights in German airspace is lower than it has been for many years. On 23 March 2020, 2,036 flights were operating in the skies over Germany, which is a 76 percent decrease in traffic compared with the same day last year. The negative trend intensified significantly over the course of the month. A further decline in air traffic is expected in the coming days. The reasons for this are the cancellation of flight connections and the mothballing of large portions of airline fleets in Germany and Europe.

Because DFS counts as critical infrastructure of the German Federal Government, it is obliged to maintain its services. Air traffic controllers must issue take-off and landing clearances in control towers at airports and work from control centres to monitor en-route flights in order to handle the remaining air traffic in a safe, orderly and expeditious manner.
In addition to protecting employees and safeguarding air navigation services, DFS must also extend its room for manoeuvre in the deployment of personnel in difficult economic times. Last week, DFS therefore negotiated a dedicated "corona collective agreement" with the air navigation services union, GdF. Among other things, this agreement contains provisions that allow DFS to flexibly manage staff deployment. In 2020, for example, up to 300 minus hours can be ordered for each employee covered by the collective agreement, half of which will be worked again over the next five years from 2021 onwards.

"With this agreement, the parties to the collective bargaining agreement and our staff councils have demonstrated that we all can act quickly in times of crisis. This is the only way we can mitigate the effects of this difficult situation," said Prof Klaus-Dieter Scheurle, CEO of DFS. "The collective agreement gives DFS the room to react appropriately and promptly. The flexibility achieved in this way would not have been possible if we had resorted to the instrument of short-time work. I am very relieved that we were able to bring the talks to a successful conclusion so quickly and constructively."

DFS employs 5,600 staff throughout Germany, around 3,000 of them at its Headquarters in Langen, near Frankfurt. Since mid-March, the majority of the staff in administration and support functions have been working mainly in the home office. Staff health is a top priority. Air traffic controllers and other employees who are directly responsible for managing air traffic in German airspace continue to work in the towers and control centres of DFS, albeit in greatly reduced numbers.

Media contact:
Christian Hoppe
Telephone: +49 (0)6103) 7074100

DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH
, the German air navigation service provider, is a State-owned company under private law with 5,600 employees as at 31 December 2019. DFS ensures the safe and punctual flow of air traffic over Germany. Around 2,200 air traffic controllers guide up to 10,000 flights in German airspace every day, more than three million movements every year. This makes Germany the country with the highest traffic volume in Europe. The company operates control centres in Langen, Bremen, Karlsruhe and Munich as well as control towers at the 16 designated international airports in Germany. The subsidiary DFS Aviation Services GmbH markets and sells products and services related to air navigation services, and provides air traffic control at nine regional airports in Germany and at London Gatwick Airport and Edinburgh Airport in the UK. DFS has been working on the integration of drones into air traffic since 2016 and has set up a joint venture, Droniq GmbH, with Deutsche Telekom. www.dfs.de