British Airways is recalling hundreds of cabin crew members who were on long-term leave during the epidemic in order to avoid the disruption seen by US-based airlines when travel demand unexpectedly increased this summer.
The airline launched an ambitious recruitment campaign last month to hire up to 3,000 cabin crew members in time for Summer 2022, but the Heathrow-based carrier may still face an employee shortage in the near future after a slew of travel restrictions were eased in quick succession.
Due to employee shortages, American Airlines and Southwest have been embarrassed by many costly operational meltdowns this year. Meanwhile, United Airlines has been compelled to limit its return to pre-pandemic capacity levels in order to ensure that aircraft are fully staffed.
Thousands of jobs were cut during the height of the pandemic, and British Airways still feared an overstaffing scenario over the winter months. Staff had been warned that if the situation didn’t improve, they could be laid off for months at a time.
President Biden announced intentions to reopen the United States to fully vaccinated travelers from throughout the world shortly after that bleak assessment of the airline sector was shared.
The British government’s decision to repeal some of the world’s harshest travel regulations, including mandatory hotel quarantine, self-isolation laws, and pre-departure and post-arrival testing, has boosted demand for foreign travel.
British Airways is anxious to take advantage of the rebound after European rivals jumped ahead during the summer, but the carrier would still be hampered by staff shortages.
Some of the problems can be traced back to BA’s desire to cut personnel costs after the airline cut its total employment by roughly 10,000 people and then implemented considerable modifications to employee terms and conditions.
Rather than accept lesser compensation and new circumstances, many of BA’s longest-serving employees chose to voluntarily leave the company.
Last month, the airline boasted to investors that it had lowered annual labor expenditures by about a third as a result of the pandemic and that it had managed to place the majority of its workforce on contracts with short-term layoff clauses.
Many BA personnel who were laid off or voluntarily left the company are now being rehired, albeit on less favorable terms and circumstances, while crew who took long-term leave are being recalled to help shore up the airline’s available staff.
British Airways has advanced the hiring of new cabin crew, but the first group of trainees will not begin their training until January 2022, and they will not be ready to fly until March.
Cabin workers could earn up to £28,000 per year, according to the airline.