Wednesday, September 27

The lack of workers in the airline sector causes the loss of nine million seats in Europe


In Spain, which is the country least affected by the collapse of the main European airports, Ryanair cabin crews return to strike starting Monday

The chaos that has been experienced in some of the main European airports since June, together with the strikes called by the unions in some airlines, are collapsing air traffic just at the moment when it was recovering after two years of pandemic, causing a reduction in flights and even a rationing of passengers in some aerodromes, something unprecedented. In Europe, the scheduled air capacity at the beginning of the summer has been reduced by 5%, which translates into nine million fewer seats. A small plane, for domestic flights, usually has 186 seats, so there would be about 50,000 lost flights.

Amsterdam and Londonthe main international connection centers, are the most affected, with a reduction of 11 and 8% of the initial capacity, respectively, while Spain is the least affected countrywith just 1% fewer seats than expected, according to data from the company Forwardkeys, which has analyzed the seats scheduled for July and August at the end of May and what there were in mid-July.

The rebound in activity is being experienced in a very hasty way, causing bottlenecks and unusual situations, like that some airlines have had to stop selling tickets, after two years without activity and now that the demand is overflowing, because there is no staff at the aerodromes to guarantee that the flights can be operated normally.

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In Spain there were ERTEs during the months of inactivity, which has allowed workers to join and the airports operate normally. It is the exception to this chaos. However, the turmoil has come from the strikes called by Ryanair cabin crew, who are back on strike next week to demand better conditions. In addition, the pilots of the British Easyjet have also scheduled stoppages during this month. In the case of Ryanair, which will carry out weekly strikes from Monday to Thursday starting this Monday and until January 2023, the Government has established minimum services that reach 85% in the case of flights to or from islands, and between 36% and 60% for other destinations.

Without resources

Behind all this European chaos lies a problem of lack of labor. Aviation is the most affected sector, since one in five of the necessary workers is missing, according to data from the World Travel Tourism Council (WTTC). Heathrow airport has had to ration flows and limit daily travelers to 100,000 that can assimilate until September. British Airways, of the IAG group, has had to stop selling tickets this week to meet the daily passenger recommendation.

“By limiting passenger numbers, airports are preventing airlines from benefiting from strong demand. Heathrow has sought to blame airlines for the disruption. However, service level performance data for the first six months of this year show that they have not been able to provide basic services and have missed their target of passenger safety service,” said IATA Director General Willie Walsh. If the announced restriction is met, the reduction in places would be 17% for those dates, according to Mabrian, a tourist intelligence company.

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the airport of Heathrow has limited daily travelers to 100,000 until September. British Airways, of the IAG group, has had to ration its domestic flights and stop selling tickets this week, for example. The collapse also affects Schiphol, in Amsterdam, another one with the most traffic, as well as the main ones in Germany.

During the pandemic, activity was very limited and many jobs were lost. The rapid recovery of traffic has not been accompanied by an increase in troops to face the peak of activity. Part of these workers looked for another job or, directly, they no longer want to work in low-paid jobs.

In addition to poor planning, there are many workers who have found other jobs and no longer want to get up at four in the morning to collect bags. We are witnessing a “great resignation” in the aviation sector, similar to that of the US, explain sources in the sector.

The great air diminution

Aviation is one of the industries most affected by the lack of personnel, with one in five workers, according to data from the World Travel Tourism Council (WTTC). The EU could face a shortage of one in nine jobs, facing a shortage of 1.2 million workers. In Spain 137,000 jobs could become vacant, leaving one in eight jobs unfilled in the tourism sector.

“A bottleneck has been created because some countries did not expect the recovery to be so fast“, explains Javier Gndara, president of the employers’ association ALA, the Association of Air Lines, who believes that “in the case of the United Kingdom there is also a structural problem, derived from Brexit”.

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Since it is no longer part of the European Union the requirements to hire foreign staff have become complicated. Before, when the British company Easyjet wanted to recruit cabin crew, 3% of the CVs received were left out if they did not meet the conditions to work in the United Kingdom. “Now 40% are left out, Europeans without a work permit,” says Gndara, who is the airline’s general director for Spain.

Many of these positions “are filled by Europeans, but now that pull of candidates that you had to fill the positions has been reduced“, he explains. The reference system for hiring aviation personnel, which involves a series of security checks to see where they have worked, etc., has also slowed down due to lack of personnel, thus aggravating the bottleneck.

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