British Airways is planning to create a cabin crew base in Madrid to address a manpower shortage that might result in a summer of travel turmoil for the troubled airline.
The airline has already begun accepting applications for the temporary posts, which will see Madrid-based cabin crew assigned on British Airways short-haul flights departing from London Heathrow.
In just three weeks, the airline has had to postpone almost 1,000 flights, and CEO Sean Doyle has warned that the cancellations could continue until the end of September.
British Airways is apparently having trouble finding enough cabin crew and other workers to satisfy an increase in travel demand, causing delays.
Long security vetting procedures have resulted in scores of new employees being unable to begin training until they have been vetted, according to the airline industry.
To make up for some of the deficits, British Airways has already brought in crew and aircraft from Finnair.
The Finnair cabin staff will work aboard Finnair aircraft under a ‘wet lease’ agreement, but the latest idea calls for employing fully trained Spanish cabin crew who could complete a rapid conversion course and then fly British Airways planes.
Surplus personnel from sibling company Iberia are being considered for use during what is likely to be a particularly busy summer.
If the idea is implemented, the Spanish cabin crew would be flown to London for three to five days, where they would work on a series of short-haul flights.
They’d be put up in hotels in between missions before being transported back to Madrid for their days off.
Potential recruits have until April 24 to express their interest in joining the team. BA says they’re merely assessing interest for now, but if the base goes ahead, it’ll open in June and be open until October. By the end of April, the airline claims it will make a decision on the base.
British Airways has been chastised for slashing thousands of jobs during the pandemic, resulting in a staffing shortage.
Supporters argue that BA had little alternative after the airline industry was decimated by a spate of government-imposed travel restrictions.
In addition to cabin personnel, the airline is having trouble finding enough baggage handlers and other ‘below wing’ employees.
As a result, the airline has made news of intentionally leaving passengers’ bags behind due to a lack of workers to load or unload luggage into planes.