Airline workforce shortages will be reduced “at the end of summer”, declares Paul Chiambaretto, professor at the Montpellier Business School and director of the Pégase Chair, on franceinfo while strikes are announced at Air France, Transavia and Ryanair, Saturday June 25 and Sunday June 26. On the other hand, he considers that the working conditions of ground staff must be made more attractive in order to be able to attract candidates.
franceinfo: Why is this movement of anger occurring today when the air sector is recovering strongly?
Pierre Chiambaretto: This movement of anger is explained by the conjunction of several factors. It is due to the fact that air traffic is picking up a little faster than expected. We are almost at the level of 2019, we have traffic conditions which are quite good, which allows the unions, for example, to have a little more demands after two rather difficult years which have led to layoffs or reductions in salaries and above all because there is currently a lack of staff to deal with this resumption of traffic, which makes working conditions difficult.
“Over the past two years, there have been several voluntary departure plans within a number of airlines, more particularly among low-cost airlines which tend to outsource part of their activity, whether either air activities or airport activities.”Paul Chiambaretto
A number of these subcontractors have separated from their employees and currently, while there is a recovery in activity which is quite strong, they are struggling to attract talent. For the airlines, it is above all a question which is temporary at the moment T, since they will once again be able to attract flight personnel. For airports, the situation is a little more complicated because it is a question of the attractiveness of professions in airports.
Are the airlines more short of pilots or stewards?
Within the airlines, what will above all have a big impact on the capacity to operate these flights, in particular during the summer, are the flight personnel, whether they are pilots or whether they are cabin crew. These people exist on the job market, they ask to work within the airlines, the problem is that it takes several months to be able to bring them up to the quality and safety standards of the airlines. . So even if someone has already been recruited two or three months ago, this person is not necessarily ready to be able to fly next week. The tensions should be reduced at the end of the summer, from the moment when these people will have been able to reintegrate the airlines fully. However, there are a number of airlines which are nevertheless a little cautious, which tell themselves that they are not immune to a new wave of Covid-19 and therefore they are showing a certain moderation in the waves of recruitment.
And in airports, are there a lot of staff shortages?
A large part of airports and their activities are outsourced. These are subcontractors who offer salary conditions or working conditions that are relatively difficult. These are people who, during the crisis, realized that their skills could be easily transferred to other sectors.
“For a salary that will be slightly above the minimum wage, there may be other jobs for which, at an equivalent salary, we will have better conditions than getting up at 3 a.m..”Paul Chiambaretto
So the whole challenge for airport subcontractors is to succeed in attracting these profiles and making these professions more attractive. It is necessary either to increase wages – which is not necessarily obvious given the financial situation of airports and their subcontractors – or to offer better working conditions for equivalent wages, for example in terms of time management, rest days, etc.