Southwest has also increased its recruiting efforts, but executives informed investors last month that too many workers were leaving and that recruits are demanding higher wages had slowed down the process. “The hiring environment is the most difficult we have ever seen,” Gary Kelly, the airline’s chairman and chief executive, said at a December investor conference.
Critics claim that the industry is to blame for its own problems. Federal aid was awarded to airlines to keep workers working during the pandemic, but they were required not to layoff their employees. Carriers offered buyouts and early retirement packages to thousands of workers, but they cut their ranks anyway.
The majority of airlines have not fully restored their workforce: According to federal data, there were approximately 413,000 people working in the industry as of October. This is nearly 9 percent less than the same month last year.
Airlines had reasons for reducing staff. Many airlines have struggled with consistent profits due to the decline in air travel. The number of passengers being screened at airports during the past two week was down approximately 15% compared with the same period in 2019.
Omicron is a threat to the aviation industry, but some industry analysts believe it will have a short-term impact. “It’s put somewhere between, I think, a four- and a six-week standstill in what was the aviation recovery,” said John Grant, a senior analyst at OAG, a firm that provides global travel data.
Indeed, millions of people have boarded flights in the United States over the past two weeks, despite the variant’s spread, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
Omicron has made it harder for airlines to operate. Even before the pandemic, storms could destabilize an airline’s holiday schedule. The problem was made worse by the high number of sick calls.
Source: NY Times