It is not in the enriching and restorative summer that the airline sector. After the hardships suffered in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, which plunged the company into the worst crisis in its history, the summer season of 2022 was to be one of resurrection after the end of travel restrictions. And so it was. Demand responded to nearly equal levels before the pandemic – Aena airports picked up 82% of 2019 passengers in June. The problem is that the offer has not been prepared at many airfields and airlines around the world to witness this explosion of travel. And the result was a “airmagedon” to which the aviation sector consultant Cirium has quantified: 25,378 flights canceled in August worldwide, according to a report quoted by Europa Press. Among them, almost 60%, 15,788, only in Europe. A figure, however, which represents 2% of the total of those programmed.
The air sector of the Old Continent is sailing in the middle of a perfect storm of staff shortages and strikes that they have half subjugated him. Airports and airlines are actively seeking personnel, from pilots to ground crew, to provide the thousands of layoffs they made during the coronavirus. And, as some airline executives have acknowledged, it’s no easy task. In many cases, these are positions that require great physical effort, are relatively poorly paid and are located in airports generally outside the urban environment, with the associated travel costs. Plus, training new workers takes months, they add.
you pay extra
To cope with this drop, some airports have started to pay incentives for their declining workforce to avoid mobilizations which complicate things even more after the strikes already experienced. Dutch Schiphol Airport has accepted an additional payment of €5.25 per hour during the summer for its cleaners, baggage handlers and security staff. Its workforce of 58,000 is now 10,000 fewer than before the coronavirus, according to Reuters data. In France, Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports need 4,000 security, maintenance and store staff, although unions say 20,000 jobs have been cut at the former alone during the pandemic. In this establishment, the security company ICTS offers a bonus of 180 euros to those who delay their holidays. And Frankfurt has rehired 1,000 of the 4,000 ground workers it laid off during the pandemic, despite warning there will always be problems and cancellations.
But without a doubt, where the staffing problems are most noticeable is in Heathrow. London Airport has announced that it limit daily passengers to 100,000 against 104,000 planned, leading to clashes with airlines such as Emirates. This company considers the request “unacceptable” and recalled that this airport managed the passage of 80.9 million passengers in 2019, which represents an average of 219,000 per day, with which the reduction of more than 50% of this capacity does not square with the airfield claims to have recovered 70% of its ground staff before the crisis caused by the pandemic.
The airlines are not overstaffed either. Lufthansa announced this week the cancellation of 2,000 flights due to a lack of check-in staff. Others are suffering the scourge of strikes, such as Air France or SAS, whose management has already warned that the mobilizations make it difficult to access funding, which could force it to reduce its workforce or even lead it directly to closure. These The shutdowns also affect easyJet and Ryanair in Spain. The cabin crew (tcp) of the national bases of these last two companies have already held several days of strike and have planned others. demand pay improvements, in the case of easyJetand the signature of a collective agreement in the Irish company. As a result of these strikes, in recent weeks dozens of flights have already been canceled and hundreds more have been delayed.
In the Spanish case, however, the good news is that the templates are sized for the activity that there is, as they assure the sector. The launch of the ERTE during the pandemic allowed companies to gradually recover their templates according to their needs. “People here haven’t looked for another job like in other countries because companies were waiting for them,” said a source in the sector. What happens are problems with airport security filters flights from non-Schengen third countries, which, due to a lack of troops, cause thousands of passengers in transit to miss their connecting flights. Indeed, the Ministry of the Interior announced the reinforcement of these points with 500 men at major airports across the country for the summer despite insisting there were no security concerns.
Lack of troops has been causing problems in the air sector for months. In December, Cirium estimates that 59,000 flights worldwide have already been canceled. The emergence of a new variant of the coronavirus has further affected the already reduced workforce of companies in the sector, forcing them to cancel thousands of operations.