Canceled flights, congested airports … Air traffic endangered by labor shortages

Canceled flights, congested airports ... Air traffic endangered by labor shortages

Due to staff shortages, airports and airlines are unable to cope with the sudden resumption of air traffic.

After reducing the number of employees to deal with the health crisis, the aviation sector is now trying to cope with the resumption of operations. At the third busiest airport in Europe, Amsterdam-Schipol, queues have been stretching in front of the building for several weeks, mainly due to a lack of security staff. The irritated unions threatened to strike on Thursday, saying they were ready for a “big” event next week as employees “fall tired”.

Amsterdam is just one example out of many. At the beginning of May, the European branch of Airports Council International (ACI Europe) admitted the existence of “significant restrictions” leading to airport congestion throughout Europe. “The immediate challenge is to cope with the sudden increase in traffic, given that the pandemic has resulted in enormous reductions in airport resources and ground handling,” said Olivier Jankovec, the organization’s CEO.

“This is now about re-employment in a very tight labor market across Europe,” he added, stressing that “it is not possible to make overnight adjustments due to ‘security accreditation and training time’ processes.

4000 vacancies in Orly and Roissy

A recruitment campaign has already begun in Orly and Roissy-Charles de Gaulle, where weapons shortages are equally worrying. A total of 4,000 positions are to be filled on the Paris platforms. But Groupe ADP faces “huge” recruitment problems, he said BFM business are CEO, Augustin de Romanet:

“What worries us is the good experience of passengers and especially with screening checkpoints. And today companies have big problems with recruitment” in this sector, he said – stressing also the need to “Maintenance technicians” sorted luggage, while Paris airports saw a further increase in traffic in April, welcoming 7 million passengers (including Bourget), up 73.4% from April 2019.

As summer approaches, Frankfurt Airport, which also fears congestion, is seeking to recruit 1,000 people.

Affected airlines

Labor shortages also affect airlines. Starting with KLM, which until Monday announced the suspension of ticket sales from Amsterdam-Schipol. EasyJet, a low-cost flight crew and pilots, has announced that it will remove seats from its aircraft this summer. At about sixty facilities, the group will start with 150 passengers instead of 156 in normal times, with 3 crew members instead of 4.

Air-France could also have problems when the national company decided to cut 7,500 jobs in 2020, almost 20% of its workforce.

The problems are the same beyond the Atlantic. “There is a huge shortage of pilots in the United States, forcing many American companies to cancel flights in some places this summer (…). There are not enough border police, customs or security,” he said. Benjamin Smith, CEO of Air France-KLM.

Raphael Couderc with Paul Louis

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