Air industry faces summer of chaos
June 14, 2022 - As the aviation industry struggles to overcome crippling staff shortages and labour strife, airlines are planning to cancel hundreds of flights ahead of the peak summer travel period.
Companies have been accused of cutting too many staff when the pandemic first hit and then finding themselves unprepared for the return of passengers. The U.S. government estimates that 100,000 jobs in the aerospace industry have been lost since March 2020, when international borders were closed, despite handing more than $50 billion of support to airlines.
Research by Oxford Economics has found that the global aviation industry lost 2.3 million jobs during the pandemic, including 1.7 million ground-handlers.
The aviation industry collectively lost some $850.8 billion in revenue, forcing drastic job cuts and government-orchestrated bailouts for some carriers.
Airport managers say they are struggling to fill jobs fast enough. The time needed to get security badges for newly hired staff has risen from three to four weeks in Britain, for example, to as long as three months, said Willie Walsh, the British Airways former boss who heads the International Air Transport Association.
“The problem is, you can’t start the training until you’ve got the security clearance,” Walsh said.
“You offer them a job, they accept it, and then you have to go through this period of three months to get security clearance -- they’re not going to hang around. They’ll go and find a job somewhere else.”
Europe’s air traffic control body has warned of problems stretching into July. Last week Lufthansa announced it would cancel 900 flights in July, blaming “bottlenecks and staff shortages” across the industry.