Summer trips disrupted in Europe as airport face staff shortage

Due to labor unrest and staffing shortages, European airports are scrambling to hire more workers, decrease flight cancellations, and alleviate traveler frustrations during the peak summer season.

On Thursday, workers at France’s Charles De Gaulle airport went on strike demanding better wages, canceling a quarter of flights. Crews from budget airlines Ryanair, easyJet, and Volotea went on strike in Italy on Wednesday.

Due to labor shortages during the busy holiday season, German flag airline Lufthansa and its subsidiary Eurowings said on Wednesday evening that they will cancel over 1,000 flights in July, or 5% of its projected weekend capacity.

According to a statement released by the unions SITCPLA and USO, Ryanair cabin crews in Europe may strike this summer after discussions with two Spanish unions came to a halt.

As air travel recovers from a pandemic-induced slowdown, airport management are failing to rapidly recruit and approve new personnel, resulting in canceled flights and hours-long lineups.

Airlines have been depending on a good summer to compensate for lower travel during the epidemic, as tickets climb to meet rising fuel costs. Some countries are likewise counting on tourism to help them recover from economic hardship.

Heavy congestion happened before the epidemic, according to the chairman of airline trade organization International Air Transport Association (IATA), and is currently restricted to particular airports, exacerbated by delays in obtaining security credentials necessary for newly recruited workers.

According to Tori Gass, a spokesman for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, Canada’s biggest airport is letting certain personnel who have not yet received their credentials to work temporarily under the supervision of verified employees.

According to Gass, the interim permit was launched at Toronto Pearson International Airport lately in response to a high amount of appointments for restricted area identity cards (RAIC). The cards take around 45 days to arrive.

In the first quarter of 2022, Transport Canada received 13,722 applications for certifications necessary for personnel such as airport ramp agents or luggage handlers, up from 5,968 requests in the same time of 2021.

Due to personnel shortages, Pearson is dealing with flights stalled at gates and hours-long security lineups.

Omar Alghabra, Canada’s Transport Minister, said on Wednesday that he is working with partners to recruit more screening officers.

Alghabra told reporters, “We’re acting.”

Dublin and Heathrow airports in the United Kingdom are hiring screeners, while Schipol Airport in Amsterdam is upping employee compensation.

Spain announced the employment of 500 more police officers on Tuesday to help with passport procedures at major airports and tourist sites such as Madrid.

Airports in the United States often avoid such congested areas. Despite this, airlines have been forced to cancel flights and reduce summer schedules due to a personnel shortage.

Because of personnel issues, Alaska Air Group Inc had to cancel 4% of its flights last month. Delta Air Lines intends to decrease flights until August after canceling approximately 700 flights over the four-day Memorial Day weekend.

Multiple aircraft coming at the same moment, according to Spain’s interior minister, caused congestion at border checkpoints. However, CEHAT, the country’s largest hotel and lodging trade organization, claimed the delays might have been avoided because they are linked to the loss of free travel for British nationals to Spain as a result of Brexit.

“We should not have been caught off guard by this issue,” CEHAT president Jorge Marichal said in a statement on Wednesday.

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