Traveling on vacation is back – with long lines and a lot of waiting

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Many travel restrictions have been lifted in the last two years, and people are making up for lost time visiting relatives, traveling for work or holidays, especially during the Easter holidays. However, airlines and airports are trying to get started as labor shortages hamper recruitment efforts and Covid infection shuts down many existing staff.

Austin, Texas, has been congested in recent weeks with long lines of security and the return of leased cars late last month. In the United Kingdom, British Airways reduced its timetable by May, while London Heathrow said it was trying to hire 12,000 workers. And in Sydney, Australia’s largest city, the airport expects Thursday – the day before the four-day Easter weekend – to be the busiest day for domestic travel since March 2020, a huge challenge as 20% of its staff miss work every day because of Covid-19 .

“This is the longest line I’ve ever waited in, and we’ve traveled a lot,” said Mary Beth Wood, 65, when she stood on the security board, which occasionally wandered outside the door. Sydney Airport on Wednesday afternoon.

Airlines have spent much of the pandemic laying off or firing thousands of workers and stoppages. Many pilots – once considered a dream job – had to find work elsewhere, from grocery stores to farms where they operated heavy machinery instead of large planes. The aviation sector is now competing for workers with other sectors, from truck management to hospitality, which are also experiencing a sharp increase in demand.

“Unfortunately, this is an industry where you can’t go down and down overnight,” said Subhas Menon, general manager of the Asia-Pacific Airlines Association. trained. “

The International Air Transport Association, an aviation industry group, warned this month that airports, governments and other infrastructure providers should prepare for a huge increase in passenger numbers as the recovery in air transport has picked up. Although international travel is recovering more slowly, the latest IATA data show that domestic travel in February increased by 61% compared to last year and was only 22% below the 2019 level.

In the United States, airlines have had almost a year to adapt to the growing number of passengers, but passengers still face regular growls when their travel overcame the spring break. The pilots at LaGuardia Airport in New York had to wait 40 to 50 minutes with a large number of passengers on Tuesday morning, the New York and New Jersey Port Authority said.

Some U.S. airlines said they did not have enough staff to recover quickly in the event of bad weather or other malfunctions. Alaska Air Group Inc. she said she would cut 2% of flying by the end of June because she seems to have completed pilot training. JetBlue Airways Corp. she said she would cut her schedule by 8 to 10% in May and during the summer to ease staff pressure.

Over the weekend, JetBlue told crew members in a memorandum that its efforts to take into account staffing, equipment, aircraft availability and airport infrastructure when planning the schedule had been canceled.

“Covid has brought all sorts of twists and turns to this process,” wrote President Joanna Geraghty.

Delta Air Lines Inc. It has hired about 15,000 new employees since the beginning of last year, partially replacing those who left during the pandemic, CEO Ed Bastian said in an interview on Tuesday. “I feel good about our staff,” he said. “We’re a long way from that.”

The United Kingdom experienced a sharp increase in flying after the country became the first in the world to remove all travel restrictions related to Covid. In the north of England, Manchester Airport recently apologized to passengers after passengers faced one hour’s delays.

The lack of staff there meant that not all security lanes could be opened, and the executive warned passengers that they should be prepared to wait up to 90 minutes over the next few months as it hires new staff and subjects everyone to the government’s screening process.

“The simple fact is that we don’t currently have the number of employees we need to provide the level of service our passengers deserve,” said Charlie Cornish, CEO of Manchester Airports Group. challenging labor markets that we have seen, with competition from many other companies that have found themselves in the same position. “

In Asia, airlines face other challenges – redirecting some flights around Russian airspace following the country’s invasion of Ukraine, adding hours to flight times, increasing fuel costs and making travel less attractive to passengers.

Flights to Japan Airlines Co. connecting Haneda with Europe now uses a northern route – flying over Alaska, Greenland and Iceland – which increases travel time from Helsinki by up to six hours. A JAL spokesman said the airline had left ticket prices unchanged so far and planned to use the southern route to use tailwind from April 19 to save energy and time.

In Australia, which reopened its borders to tourists in February, local governments have been dominated by crowds at local airports for several days. Qantas Airways Ltd., Australia’s main airline, has diverted some employees who do not normally work at the airport to help passengers and baggage, while Sydney Airport has said it is deploying senior managers to help manage routes.

The airport security contractor has been recruiting more than 100 security clearances since December, but has trouble finding enough staff, a problem in Australia after nearly two years of tight border closures that have hampered immigration. The airport said that 50 new detection staff will be gradually available in the coming weeks, but the new staff training process takes two months.

“The industry has been completely broken and we are building from the ground up,” Geoff Culbert, the airport’s executive director, told the television. fight for the same resources. “

Adding to the problem is that passengers are rusty even when going through security, said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce. Prior to the pandemic, 10% of passengers needed to go through security, but now that number is as high as 30%, Joyce said. This adds 45 seconds per person, which accumulates when thousands of people travel.

When the security line began operating at Sydney Airport, Ms Wood, who had only hand luggage, said she was not afraid she would miss her approximately 90-minute domestic flight to Melbourne, as she arrived on time and had about an hour and a half before boarding. .

“We’ve learned to go with the flow,” said Mrs. Wood, who was visiting Australia from California. “We’ll be fine if we get on time.

This story was published from the agency’s feed without text editing

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