Executives from airlines and airports have spent the last two years attempting to persuade the public that flying during a pandemic is safe, boasting decreased contact points and hospital-grade filtration. They had no idea how overwhelmed they would be once travel resumed.
The aviation industry does not have nearly enough people to run operations smoothly, even as post-summer demand for travel remains uncertain. From Sydney, where passengers are waiting for hours to check in, to chaotic scenes in India and Europe, where the UK has seen weeks of disruption and Deutsche Lufthansa AG is canceling hundreds of flights, the aviation industry does not have nearly enough people to run operations smoothly.
Travel has sprung back with such vigor as governments reopen borders and Covid limitations fall away, resulting in an extraordinary labor shortage, exacerbated by pandemic-related layoffs of hundreds of thousands of workers, ranging from pilots to cabin crew to ground-handling staff. Many people are not in the mood to return, but even if they were, scaling up at such a rapid rate poses a danger to airlines and airports, with soaring inflation and economic pressures raising doubts about how long present demand can be sustained.
“At the present, all airports and airlines are short staffed,” said Geoff Culbert, the CEO of Sydney Airport, where over half of the 33,000-strong workforce was let off during Covid. The airfield is working feverishly to rebuild, but “we’re not as appealing a place to work as we used to be,” he said. “Job security continues to be a source of anxiety.”
Due to personnel shortages, both Amsterdam’s Schiphol and London’s Gatwick airports intend to reduce passenger numbers over the prime summer vacation season, adding to the agony for passengers.
Many aviation-sector personnel have gone on to other, less hazardous occupations as a result of the epidemic, and enticing them back is proving difficult. Changi Airport in Singapore is searching for 6,600 personnel, ranging from security to catering. Certis Group, for example, is giving a S$25,000 ($18,000) sign-on bonus for an auxiliary police officer post that would assist with traffic and crowd management, which is around 10 times the standard monthly income.
The significant personnel shortage, which will undoubtedly be a topic of debate at the International Air Transport Association’s 78th annual general meeting, which begins on Sunday in Doha, has resulted in delays, cancellations, and tremendous annoyance for airlines and travelers worldwide. The situation has deteriorated to the point where Ryanair Holdings Plc Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary has requested assistance from British military soldiers, while Qantas Airways Ltd. has enlisted the services of head office workers to volunteer at airports during the busy July vacation period.
“We are struggling to execute our scheduled schedule with the quality and timeliness we offer due to staff shortages,” stated Jens Ritter, the CEO of Lufthansa, in a LinkedIn post last week, apologizing for postponed flights in Munich and Frankfurt. “During the epidemic, many workers quit the aviation industry and found work elsewhere.” Our system partners, such as airports and caterers, are currently facing a severe staffing crisis and are finding it difficult to acquire new employees.”
Security clearances, which are essential for airport jobs, are also causing delays in recruiting. 3,000 potential candidates are awaiting background checks at British Airways, while 140 crew members at EasyJet Plc are trained and ready but lack the requisite air-side permits.
According to Izham Ismail, CEO of Malaysian Airlines, this indicates that the shortages might last up to a year. “This is something we see a lot of in Europe. This is something we see in North America. “We see that in Malaysia,” Izham remarked earlier this week at a meeting in Singapore. “I think that all stakeholders and policymakers must work together to tackle all difficulties,” says the author.
The way airlines and airports operate differs from one location to the next. According to Brendan Sobie, Singapore-based head of consultancy Sobie Aviation, airports in Asia have traditionally been more proactive when it comes to averting meltdowns, at times refusing airlines permission to add extra flights or requesting them to postpone. Other sections of the world are just looking for a break while demand remains stable or even declines.