Why is the airline industry struggling?

Date: 01 JUN 22

We are used to IT problems from British Airways leading to mass delays and cancellations but it seems that the airline industry as a whole is now struggling to cope with demand post-pandemic with the situation reaching critical levels over the last two weeks.

So what has happened to the airline industry?

The first issue is the layoffs made by airlines and airports during the pandemic. Despite the government offering furlough payments to encourage airlines to retain their staff many airlines and airports decided to cut frontline staff, baggage handlers, flight crews and pilots in an effort to save money.

As the world slowly gets back to normal enticing staff to come back has proved difficult as many have now moved onto other jobs and with the number of vacancies exceeding the number of applicants jobseekers are in a position where they can pick and choose their next roles.

IT problems has been the scourge of British Airways in recent times but this seems to have now affected EasyJet which encountered its own IT problems leading to a number of flights having to be cancelled. Even when the IT issue was resolved it left planes in the wrong locations and led to even more cancellations from its main hubs including Gatwick, Bristol and Manchester.

What about the long queues for security?

Airports are notoriously secure locations with every passenger having to go through security in order to board their flight. With the redundancies to security personnel during the pandemic, it has left airports with long lines of passengers outside the airport and sometimes into the car park. This has been a result of the security checks and training that each new employee must undertake before they are allowed to take up their position. The DBS checks currently take around 3 weeks and airports are finding staff are taking other jobs before the vetting process is complete. Some staff have complained that the entire process is taking upto 5 weeks.

Airline security roles are notoriously low paid jobs and the hours can be extremely long. Airports need to offer higher wages if they are to fill their vacant positions.

Why are my bags taking hours to come through?

Baggage handlers are not employed by the airports but by the individual airlines either via their own staff or using baggage handler companies. As with the rest of the industry, they are struggling to recruit staff to empty aircraft and deliver the baggage to the carousel. With the increase in demand, airlines have been selling flights that they cant accommodate with their current staffing levels which have led to more flight delays and cancellations. 

What else is contributing to the delays?

Half term holidays and the Jubilee weekend have contributed to the perfect storm of too many people trying to get away and not enough airlines, airport and baggage staff to deal with them. Airlines have been criticised by government ministers for selling flights that they cant service efficiently.

How long is this going to last?

The industry has been recruiting furiously over the last few months but the number of vacancies still outstrips the number of applicants. Working at the airport was once seen as a job for life but the pandemic and poor working conditions have made people realise there are better paid jobs with normal working hours out there and re-recruiting experienced staff is going to be difficult. The delays are expected to easy of the coming weeks but with the summer holidays starting in July we will no doubt see a repeat of the scenes we have seen on the media.

If you want to keep an eye on the latest flight delays and cancellations we update our recent flight delays page and our twitter feed daily.


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