Many pilots and aviation observers believe that the airlines themselves are to blame for many of the factors that have led to flight delays and cancellations over the past few months.
Now, a handful of experts – two aviation consultants and a union leader – confirm to Business Insider that a lack of planning and foresight on the part of airlines, coupled with a tough job market and rising fuel prices, are the main causes of the travel chaos that has occurred at airports around the world.
And, of course, it all started with COVID-19.
While the pandemic has certainly hurt airlines, the decision by most carriers to offer early retirement and buyouts for many workers, not to mention attrition, has hurt them again now that demand is almost back to pre-pandemic levels.
And still no staff.
In addition to the lack of pilots to handle numerous flights, the problems were reduced to even the most basic tasks of airlines, such as baggage claim and aircraft cleaning. At one point, British Airways even ordered its baggage workers to stop loading luggage on short-haul flights in order to focus on more expensive long-haul flights. Passengers on some flights were told that luggage would be delivered to their destination in a day or two.
The main culprit, however, was the lack of pilots.
“Now that you’re coming out of COVID and demand is actually showing signs of a quick recovery, you’re starting to see they have fewer pilots (but have) the same number of flights,” Umang Gupta of consulting firm Alton told Business Insider. aviation. “Now you see that people are not ready to take on jobs at the wages that were offered before, so they have to pay more to get the same people.
And those workers who for some reason left and then returned may not be ready. Especially those who chose this option more than two years ago when the pandemic began.
“(The airlines) have been too optimistic about the willingness of the people they have laid off to come back,” said Mike Clancy, general secretary of the Prospect union, which represents air traffic controllers, licensed technical engineers and air traffic systems specialists in the UK. “Currently, if you work at an airport, it’s even more stressful than usual. Because the passengers are unhappy.”
And while the requirement for air passengers entering or re-entering the United States to test negative for the virus has been lifted, that’s good for airlines, it could be bad for travelers.
“I don’t see summer being anything but bumpy and bumpy,” said John Strickland of JLS Consulting. “There are a lot of uncertainties.”