Numerous airports have reported long wait times at check-in counters which often extend out to the exterior. As per The Wall Street Journal, Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport began “limiting the number of passengers allowed inside, asking travelers not to show up more than four hours before their flights,” and advising passengers to wear comfortable shoes due to the lengthy wait times.
The huge staff shortages result from the severe coronavirus limitations that affected travel across the globe during the course of the pandemic. Even while many limitations have been eased as people take off on European summer vacations, staff shortages persist. Sydney Airport, for example recently hosted an open job fair to fill its 5,000-person shortage. This led to an unprecedented rise in flight cancellations, along with numerous operational issues including the time Switzerland temporarily shut down its airspace because of an error in the technology. According to the WSJ:
Delays, particularly in Europe, are at an all-time high this summer. This month there have been 25 percent of scheduled flights across the continent, with the exception of Russia which began late and had the average delays of 33 minutes … This compares to 21% with an average delay of just 28 minutes, in June 2019. In Schiphol, Amsterdam, 36 percent of flights were delayed this month, a rise from 28% in the previous year.
The number of cancellations for flights has increased in June, as per information compiled by the aviation data firm, Cirium. Within the U.S., about 3 percent of scheduled flight times have been canceled to date, as compared to the 2% figure in the year before the outbreak of Covid-19. The number of cancellations increased by 16%, reaching 13,581 fights from the first quarter of the year.
In Europe, including Russia, approximately 2 percent of flights have been canceled to date in June as compared to a figure of 1% in the same timeframe in the year 2019. The number of flights that were canceled increased by 162% to 8,228, during June, in comparison to the same timeframe in the year 2019.
As published yesterday, American Airlines announced that it will stop operations in three cities this autumn because of a shortage of pilots within the airline industry. Islip, Ithaca, New York, and Toledo, Ohio. JetBlue has also cut flights during the summer due to problems with staffing, and United Airlines has upped its training program in hopes of preparing the next 5,000 pilots in 2030.
Outside of pilots, the aviation industry is struggling to hire staff for airport security and baggage handling, as well as catering and check-in. Because potential employees must be subjected to rigorous security screenings that typically last about 16 to 18 weeks, many airports anticipate the issue will persist into the autumn of next year, at which travelers will surely be more frequent due to the busy holiday season. Olivier Jankovec, director-general of the airports organization ACI Europe, flatly said that “getting staff back into an airport isn't like hiring for a restaurant or supermarket.”
“To be fully resourced today, we'd need to have begun a recruitment drive about six months ago,” Jankovec said to WSJ.