After the United States reopened to British and European visitors and passengers, British Airways cabin crews say they are “struggling” to comply.
Following President Biden’s decision to lift the pandemic travel ban, British Airways reported a tremendous jump in new bookings, although onboard personnel numbers had not been restored to pre-pandemic levels.
The BASSA cabin crew union claims it receives over 100 emails every day from weary cabin personnel who are at their wit’s end due to insufficient staffing numbers.
Because of the falling demand for air travel, British Airways cut onboard personnel numbers to meet the minimum legally needed levels at the onset of the epidemic. However, despite the fact that many planes are already at maximum passenger capacity, staffing numbers have not been boosted to match.
The situation has been exacerbated by the fact that British Airways, like many other airlines, has restored its onboard service to levels that are substantially closer to pre-pandemic levels.
British Airways may be reducing crew ranks to save money, but the airline is also experiencing a staffing shortage and is desperately seeking to employ new crew members and recall crew who resigned or took extended periods of unpaid vacation during the pandemic’s peak.
Despite warnings from US-based airlines that experienced similar staffing challenges earlier this year, the Heathrow-based carrier appears to have been caught off guard by the sudden rise in travel demand.
British Airways is now recruiting up to 3,000 cabin crew members, however, training classes will not begin until early next year, and the first recruits will not graduate from training school until at least March 2022.
Not long ago, BA was concerned about a huge overstaffing scenario during the winter months and warned the crew and other employees that they could be laid off for several months.
British Airways, according to the crew union, may not be completely aware of how terrible the situation has become on some flights. While hundreds of emails are being sent to the union by crew members, little input is reaching airline executives directly.
Crew members are now urged to express their dissatisfaction in official feedback in the hopes of having the personnel cuts overturned.
Last week, the union representing American Airlines flight attendants expressed dissatisfaction with the carrier’s refusal to restore staffing levels to pre-pandemic levels.
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) claimed that providing a premium service with fewer crew members was becoming untenable.
“Our Flight Attendants take pride in delivering a premium product to our customers. Management appears only to be concerned with lowering labor costs with no regard to the impact of staffing reductions on our Flight Attendants,” the union wrote in an internal memo.
“Based on the reports we have already received, the workload has become unreasonable and unrealistic for one person to effectively complete service to the level that our customers expect,” the memo continued.
However, American Airlines, like other airlines, is trying to recoup massive pandemic losses and wants to keep employee expenses as low as for as long as possible.