A few weeks ago, the Spanish trade union complained about protective masks that were made available to Lauda staff at the Palma de Mallorca base, which did not comply with local legislation. It has now become known that there is a lack of protective equipment at the other stations of the Ryanair subsidiary.
The flying personnel in Düsseldorf were even asked to buy disposable gloves or disinfectants themselves. Only after considerable pressure from numerous flight attendants was it announced that rubber gloves would be flown in from Palma de Mallorca. These have not yet arrived. The only ray of hope for the employees: At the beginning of the corona pandemic in March 2020, the company was criticized for not having soap in the toilets of the A320. Several Lauda flight attendants from different bases said that you now definitely have enough liquid soap and that there are large supplies. Egg gloves and disinfectants for the staff are, however, only very sparse or sometimes not available at all, according to the cabin crew.
Flight attendants at the Lauda bases in Düsseldorf and Stuttgart are particularly concerned about the laxity of the local health authorities and their employers when passengers test positive for the corona virus. In Germany, travelers can have themselves tested free of charge after arriving at the airports, although participation is mandatory if you come from a risk area, for example Spain. The airline concerned is also informed as part of the contact tracing.
Cabin crew: "The German authorities let us down"
In Germany, positive tests are increasing from people who were previously on board commercial aircraft. It is very likely that this is also due to the fact that the PCR testing can be used free of charge and the "cost barrier" is no longer applicable. But the procedure practiced in the Federal Republic of Germany has a loophole to the clear disadvantage of the flying personnel. If, for example, a corona case occurs at a private party, all participants must be tested and, if necessary, also placed in quarantine. In the professional area, however, the German authorities handle this differently: only if a crew member shows clear symptoms is this tested free of charge and further measures are taken if necessary. This applies not only to Lauda, but to all airlines.
Put simply, this means that there are currently a lot of people on board who have been found to be infected with the corona virus by using the free tests. However, the cabin crew is not covered by contact tracing and can only take further protective and test measures if they show clear symptoms. Many German Lauda flight attendants consider this to be grossly negligent and feel downright let down by the German health authorities and their employer. It is pointed out that only an infected flight attendant could quickly and unintentionally become a “super spreader”, although this risk is downplayed by the authorities of the Federal Republic of Germany.
In Düsseldorf alone, the local Corona hotline receives an enormous number of calls every day from airline employees of various airlines who have passengers on board who tested positive after landing. However, reference is made to the current legal situation. Testing and / or quarantine for flight personnel only if the employee concerned shows clear symptoms. As long as this is not the case, the flight attendant remains on duty.
The fear that infected flight attendants could develop into “super spreaders” and thus lead airlines into unforeseeable problems is entirely justified. German airline employees from various airlines describe that, for operational reasons, it is often impossible to keep the distances. There is also no legal mask requirement in the very cramped crew rooms at the airports and especially here it is often very tight at peak times. The concern is: The virus could be "distributed" in the crew rooms and then travel around the world and ensure further spread and thus contagion on all routes of the possibly infected airline employees. The authorities downplayed this problem and pointed out that the “measures” would only apply to the private sector. In the eyes of German flight attendants, a fatally negligent approach to the detriment of the health of the airline employees and all persons with whom they come into contact.
Lauda: You should buy rubber gloves and disinfection yourself
The Lauda airline even tops the list in this context, because according to consistent information from flight attendants at the bases in Vienna, Düsseldorf, Stuttgart and Palma de Mallorca, disinfectants are said to be scarce or even non-existent. As mentioned, disposable gloves are also in short supply. On the part of the Head of Inflight, the e-mails at hand indicate that this should be obtained privately. In Düsseldorf rubber gloves were promised to be flown in from Palma, but they have not yet arrived. Actually surprising, because the Palma base was promised that gloves should be flown in from Vienna and they are also not really available in Vienna.
Flight attendants also criticize the fact that the Head of Inflight is said to have given repeated verbal instructions that one only has to report to the authorities if one has clear corona symptoms, otherwise duty would have to be carried out according to regulations. There would be no support from the company, so regardless of the Corona situation, there is strong selling pressure on the cabin crew. This is exactly what the Spanish trade union has repeatedly criticized. This even raised the charge that the sales proceeds should be more important than the personal safety and health of the staff.
Regarding the very harsh allegations that are made by the flying Lauda personnel, managing director Andreas Gruber could not be reached by telephone for a statement.