The "Airlift for Farmers", which Eurowings launched together with the Lufthansa Group and German farmers' associations to support agriculture, has got off to a successful start. Just one week after the activation of a new Eurowings portal for harvest helpers, farmers from all over Germany have already registered more than 30,000 of their seasonal workers who are urgently needed in the fields for harvesting, planting and sowing. Since the start of this "Airlift for Farmers" at the beginning of April, Eurowings has flown more than 3,000 harvest workers from Romania to Berlin, Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden, Leipzig, Nuremberg and Frankfurt-Hahn on more than 30 flights within one week. Further special flights are planned in the next few days and weeks, more than 100 in total, to provide the best possible help to farmers in a very difficult situation and to secure the supply of fruit and vegetables in Germany.
On this occasion, we spoke to Eurowings’ Purser Sascha Schade, who accompanied one of the first special flights from Romania to Düsseldorf.
How has the Corona crisis changed your daily work routine? What is the mood among your colleagues?
The mood on board is good because we are happy to fly. At the same time, the emptiness of the planes is somehow frightening. But the majority of my colleagues is still confident. Due to the low utilization of the planes, the service and work is also very reduced. It is unusual and even a "short" flight feels longer usual for us. The crop worker flights are a pleasant change here! Just like the repatriation flights, with which we have brought many people from abroad to Germany.
How has their everyday life changed?
It has hit our industry hard. Around 90 percent of aircraft is on the ground, there are considerable entry restrictions for every destination and the uncertainty grows with each passing day. During work, additional safety measures such as disinfection and keeping a safe distance apply. Friends ask "when can I fly back on holiday" and I ask myself "when do I have a perspective in my job again and can do what I love - flying". My whole everyday life is turned upside down and the crisis has taken the structure away.
After all, you were involved in one of the few flights currently being carried out. How did it differ from a flight you are used to?
The guests on board spread a pleasant atmosphere. Some of them were almost euphoric as they were finally allowed to enter Germany for their annual work. For many families it is existential that e.g. to be capable of taking care for their relatives. One could feel this relief and also gratitude. Many have flown for the very first time and were excited and friendly towards us.
What feedback did you receive from the harvest workers, what topics were discussed during the flight?
The feedback from the guests on board was positive! We looked after them as well as we could at the moment. The harvest helpers were very grateful. Many took photos as a reminder of the beautiful flight and they were happy to finally reach their destination. We as the cabin crew noticed that despite all the enthusiasm for flying, their thoughts were always with their families and we hope that everyone stays healthy. They told us that they were happy to be able to help with the harvest in Germany and earn an important living.
What are you looking forward to when the crisis is over?
I am looking forward to having a regular flight schedule again after the crisis. Above all, I am looking forward to flights with carefree guests again, for whom one can prepare a nice flight again with appropriate service. I am also looking forward to a normal and regulated everyday life and to fully carry out the job I love. At the moment I miss this very much, as well as the whole structure - but I think many people will feel this way!