Global airlines hit by COVID-19 are optimistic about lowering their losses, but industry leaders at a Doha meeting warned they still face issues such as labor shortages at airports, which might limit post-crisis development.
Recent aircraft delays and cancellations have been largely blamed on a staffing shortage, as an increasing number of individuals abandon low-paying airport jobs in favor of the flexible working patterns that thrived during the epidemic.
Akbar Al Baker, the CEO of host carrier Qatar Airways, claimed that labor shortages will be a major issue in the coming months, despite the fact that his company is “inundated with job applications.”
“Working from home has become a nasty habit,” Al Baker said during a press conference.
“They believe they don’t need to work in an industry that requires a lot of hands-on work,” he said, adding that airport staffing shortages might stymie expansion.
Emirates airline President Tim Clark claimed authorities at London Heathrow had forced the Dubai carrier to cancel an A380 trip there at short notice over the weekend, causing inconvenience.
He did, however, advise the sector not to waste time arguing.
“The airport side of things needs to figure out how to fill important positions like luggage, check-in, and baggage systems. Get down to business. There’s a lot of finger pointing, and everyone is at each other’s necks… Just get the job done, guys.”
Clark continued, ” “Do I think this will be resolved in the next months? Yes”
Speaking on a conference in Doha concerning industry labor constraints, JetBlue Airways Corp CEO Robin Hayes expressed confidence that the sector will return to “a new normal” in the next two to three years.
At the meeting, global airlines went on the offensive, criticizing governments and airports for their handling of the pandemic recovery.
“Mismanagement by the government came at a high price. It wreaked havoc on economies, disrupted supply chains, and wiped off employment “The International Air Transport Association’s director general, Willie Walsh, addressed the sector’s annual conference of more than 100 airline executives.
Governments and consumer organizations have chastised airlines for causing disruption as travel demand picks up faster than planned, but the airline industry sees a common thread in incoordinated government responses to the situation.
“There was just one virus,” Walsh told the conference, “but each country devised its own approach.” “How can anybody have faith in governments that respond in such a haphazard, chaotic, and knee-jerk manner?”