(GBC) — Amid the easing of Covid travel restrictions, airlines and airports are struggling to hire new staff to replace cabin crew made redundant during the pandemic. Airlines including British Airways and EasyJet were forced to cancel hundreds of flights over the past month, while travellers faced long queues and disruptions at the airport.
Low-cost carrier EasyJet projected that demand during summer will reach pre-pandemic levels, while experts warn that staffing difficulties will continue for up to 12 months. In order to “build additional resilience and flexibility”, EasyJet announced plans to remove the back row passenger seats from its A319 aircrafts. The airline said this will limit the numbers of passenger on board to 150, while reducing the need for cabin crew from four to three.
However, Julia Lo Bue-Said from the Advantage Travel Partnership told the BBC that the measures “only exacerbates the issue of meeting consumer demand to travel” and that it was a “travesty” to strip out seats to meet Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulations on cabin crew ratios, which is based on the number of actual seats, rather than numbers on board.
Another factor contributing to staff shortage is the need for security clearance before recruits could begin training. UK transport secretary Grant Shapps announced in parliament’s Transport Committee that staff training can begin without security clearance moving forward.