While aviation has faced significant troubles in the last year, things are beginning to look promising once again. In fact, we’ve seen a real increase in demand for check-in staff, baggage handlers and ramp agents as airports begin to plan for a re-opening in mid-May. The challenge now, though, is ensuring that there are not only enough people being hired in time, but also that those who have faced a year out of work are trained and brought back up to speed quickly.
Read on to find out more on our analysis of the current hiring and training landscape across aviation.
As the aviation industry prepares for the easing of Covid restrictions in the UK, airlines and airports are readying themselves to welcome passengers for the resumption of flights and travel abroad. With the May 17th deadline only a matter of weeks away, recruitment requirements still need to be fulfilled and the demand for airport personnel, including check-in staff, baggage handlers and ramp agents, has encouragingly begun to pick up once again.
So, what’s happened in the world of aviation and what’s in store for the future?
The last 12 months have hit the airline industry hard. Planes the world over were grounded with flights suspended across the board. 2020 was nothing short of catastrophic for an industry which relies on international travel and which also supports and creates many jobs in the UK economy. Very few sectors were as badly affected as the aviation industry, with flight cancellations and travel bans causing airlines and airports to lose billions of pounds in revenues. The uncertainty and various lockdowns did nothing to stop the freefall.
But as the second quarter of 2021 begins, things would appear to be – hopefully – returning to some kind of new normal with the May 17th deadline bringing some much-needed optimism. The UK government’s framework for the return to safe travel was announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on 12th April, in which he revealed a three-tier traffic light system that would categorise the risks posed by visitors from different countries with an eye on the danger of COVID variants. “The framework announced today will help allow us to reopen travel safely and sustainably, ensure we protect our hard-won achievements on the vaccine roll out, and offer peace of mind to both passengers and industry as we begin to take trips abroad once again,” he said.
This news coupled with the pace of vaccinations has boosted confidence across the UK’s airports. In fact, we noticed a significant spike in demand for baggage handlers, ramp agents and check-in staff over the last month as airports plan to re-open.
While the success of the vaccination programme in the UK and increase in hiring activity for on-the-ground roles in some of the UK’s leading airports is encouraging news and a big boost for the industry and its millions of workers, there are still no assurances given the rise in new variants and the potential spread of the virus from infected inbound passengers. It will also take some adjustment. As our own Business Director, Dan Carlin, recently said in a news item for Aviation Pros, “Airports and airlines can’t simply flick a switch and return to pre-pandemic levels of flights, so the fact that we are currently seeing recruitment of front-of-house staff ramp up is a promising sign. We will, of course, have to wait and see what happens closer to the Government’s May 17th deadline, but signs are certainly looking promising at the moment.”
The aviation industry faces another big challenge in meeting its recruitment requirements. As it plans for the reopening of international travel networks, all major UK travel hubs are having to move quickly to ensure they have the resources in place to meet the demands of customers as the peak holiday season approaches. Time is clearly of the essence for the industry as it strives to ensure that it is suitably well staffed and equipped to deal with the passenger and flight volumes at its airports should things proceed as expected.
Indeed, airlines and airport operators have to not only think about their staffing requirements and ensuring they have the personnel in place to deal with the considerable workload, but also the time it takes to train and onboard them. An extra layer of complexity is that staff who were hired or employed in 2020 and have been unable to work will also need to be retrained – this includes being up to date on all the latest global Covid health authority regulations. As Carlin sums up in his comment for Aviation Pros, “While it’s certainly encouraging to see confidence currently returning for the UK’s aviation industry after what has been an incredibly tough year, the challenge now is getting enough staff on-board and re-trained in a short time frame.”
While there are still difficulties and more uncertainty ahead, the spike in demand for airport and airline staff is the clearest indication yet that the aviation industry is starting to plan for a brighter future. Our hope now is that aviation can begin to its journey to recovery following the damage caused by the Coronavirus pandemic and once again become the booming industry we knew it to be.
At Staffing Match, we can not only source the staff you need – from check-in staff to baggage handlers and ramp agents – but we can also deliver bespoke skills training courses for your organisation and its people. Our recruitment consultants adhere to industry standards and you can be sure that all candidates are vetted to Civil Aviation Authorities (CAA) standards.