After coronavirus limitations were lifted, the industry is having trouble coping with the large number of people who want to travel abroad. In an effort to alleviate workforce shortages that have resulted in several flight cancellations and lengthy waits, the UK is proposing steps to assist in accelerating the recruitment of workers at airlines and airports.
The proposal comes as the industry struggles to deal with British citizens wanting to travel overseas because businesses cut staff when travel was halted at the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak. Due to workforce shortages brought on by a mix of Covid-19 infections and taking longer than anticipated to complete background and identity checks on new hires and acquire security clearance, UK airlines have recently had to cancel up to 1,000 flights per week. Long delays have affected travellers using airports like Heathrow, Gatwick, and Manchester.
Are airports in the UK ready?
Bookings for Christmas and New Year have nearly recovered to pre-pandemic levels. Data from the Advantage Travel Partnership shows that departures for the period are only 10% lower than in 2019, and Spain and Turkey continue to be popular destinations for tourists. One important question remains now that flying is back on the agenda and travellers are once more swarming airports. Are airports in the UK genuinely ready? Airports are finding it difficult to keep up with the increased demand while airlines are experiencing levels of interest they could only have imagined.
The Bright Side
The issues, which have been brought on by a “lethal mix” of employee illness and post-pandemic recruitment difficulties, have been attributed by airports to a “cross-industry employment crisis. However, they assert that the problems are not irreversible. According to Daily Express, the aviation industry in the United Kingdom is once again “going for the skies” as airports and airlines provide hundreds of new jobs. More than 400 new positions have been advertised at Luton Airport, including security, firefighting, hospitality, and retail positions.
According to The Guardian, 12,000 new employees will be hired at Heathrow, the busiest airport in the UK, to help with the “anticipated summer holiday boom. The airport authorities need to ensure we are set up to meet peak possible demand this summer.” The staff shortages caused by the pandemic, according to aviation expert John Strickland of JLS Consulting, are “likely to be more pervasive” with airlines due to the sheer volume of fired workers.
Numerous flights at Heathrow were delayed or cancelled due to a British Airways IT issue last week. According to The Independent, staff shortages are making the disruption brought on by the frequent IT failures worse. When the dominoes started to fall, Strickland told the PA news agency, “if your manpower is not up to the proper planned establishment, then you’re floundering even more.”
Initiatives and Support Offered by The UK Government
To ensure that the aviation sector has the workers it needs to meet the pandemic’s unprecedented demand for travel. The government is investing £1.5 million in recruitment efforts.
In July 2022, the government announced £700,000 for the Reach for the Sky Challenge Fund, which will support outreach initiatives and events to inform young people from all socioeconomic backgrounds about the opportunities in aviation. The goal is to encourage young people to pursue these careers.
The programme will assist Generation Aviation, a new initiative in which the government will collaborate with businesses to boost the number of employment applications in the industry. The campaign is one of the main components of the government’s 22-point plan to assist business in addressing the disruption it is currently going through as a result of demand exceeding staffing capacity.
The 22-point plan outlines all the steps the government is taking to support the aviation industry, including helping recruit and train staff, ensuring the delivery of a realistic summer schedule, minimising disruption, and supporting passengers when delays and cancellations are unavoidable. The government has previously urged the industry to do everything possible to prevent repeated issues experienced at Easter and half-term.
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