British airlines offer big bonuses to recruit crew in case of shortages
British airlines have come under intense pressure over the past two months as they grapple with a seemingly endless staffing crisis. Staff shortages have repeatedly forced airlines to cancel hundreds of flights for lack of operational manpower, disrupting flight schedules and causing many frustrated passengers to be stranded.
Desperate for numbers
One such struggling UK carrier is British Airways, which enthusiastically laid off a high percentage of its workforce at the height of the pandemic. Unfortunately for the national carrier, rehiring these numbers has been anything but an easy task as many have moved on to other careers. The result is that British Airways had to cancel many flights. With the arrival of the summer travel season, the airline can no longer risk cutting its schedules if it wants to avoid a major backlash.
Like the rest of the aviation industry, the London Heathrow-based carrier has tried traditional methods such as opening several recruitment campaigns to fill staffing shortages. However, the airline has run into difficulties here, due to a delay in security checks by the Department for Transport for new staff. Therefore, it’s clear the London-based carrier can’t wait any longer, so it’s time for less traditional methods.
In another attempt to temporarily solve the labor shortage, British Airways has sought to hire new cabin crew members who already have an airside pass. And as the icing on the cake, the airline will offer a signing bonus of £1,000 ($1,041), half of which will be paid after three months on the job and the rest paid after six months. This current connection bonus is double what the national carrier offered just a few months ago. New hires can also benefit from typical British Airways benefits, such as immediate access to staff travel, generous overtime pay and buyout of annual leave and vacation days.
A similar signing bonus is offered to ramp agents and bus drivers at Heathrow Airport, where staff shortages have scrambled British Airways operations for the past two months. Photo: Arran Rice | single flight
Fly on the train
Low-cost carrier easyJet, which has high hopes in the summer vacation boom, is also struggling to recruit staff as it lost more than £500 million ($724 million) over the of the first half of this year. Like its full-cost rival, easyJet has canceled hundreds of flights due to staff shortages as it struggles to rehire and retain its crew. Even with recruitment drives, easyJet still has around 100 of its 1,100 recruited crew awaiting security clearances.
So London-based low-cost carrier Luton is also offering cabin crew an attractive bonus that matches British Airways’ golden handshake – but with a competitive difference. easyJet will extend the bonus to all new and existing crew, who will receive payment in October as a reward for their efforts during the summer travel boom, as confirmed by the airline:
“easyJet will pay its cabin crew a recognition payment at the end of the summer season to recognize their contribution to the operation this summer, which is expected to return to near 2019 levels for the first time since the pandemic.”
Working on the brink
Elsewhere in the world, staff shortages are also affecting other airlines. It probably doesn’t help that some airlines have stricter personnel policies, which results in their workforce being stretched even further between accelerated flight schedules. In the United States, JetBlue cabin crew used collaboration with the Transport Workers Union (TWU) to write an open letter to the president of the airline.
The New York-based low-cost carrier tried to dissuade cabin crew members from calling in sick as soaring absence levels led to last-minute cancellations and threatened disciplinary action. Corrective actions included terminating what JetBlue calls a “critical coverage day.” That’s why the TWU wants to see JetBlue move from a policy of deterrence to an incentive policy to reduce cabin crew burnout, as it states:
“We have a record number of IFCs on Final Progressive Guidance and unfortunately we have lost many as a result of the vast expansion of Critical Coverage Days, which exponentially outnumber any other commercial carrier. Punishment, Fear and Intimidation have become the silver bullet, and it’s not working. We’re only humans and we’re at our breaking point.
Cabin crew members have also expressed fear of being blamed for nearly all of JetBlue’s recent operational disasters. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | single flight
At the end of the line
Personnel shortages have long plagued the aviation industry, although most of them have traditionally been pilot shortages. As the turbulent waves of the pandemic spread, airlines quickly recovered and stepped up their route networks – perhaps a bit too soon for some. With the summer travel season coming soon, this could really be game-changing for these airlines. Will there be more cancellations or will things be smooth going forward?
Source: It’s Money
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