Come Fly With Me: Staffing Issues plague the Airline Industry


Working for a large airline was once considered a prestigious job.

The glamour and high pay of jet-setting across the world and being involved in very technical operations was highly desired. Employees would often spend their whole career at one airline. Nowadays, the desire of the average professional has changed. More flexibility is desired, and in the often fast paced and stressful environment of an airline, this results in higher turnover rates and staffing issues.

Airlines require many different employees that are critical to safety and efficient operations. These shortages in skilled employees have caused many operational challenges, such as cancelled flights. With the pandemic factored in, we can see a major issue that airlines are fighting to resolve quickly.

American Airlines has had to cancel close to 950 flights in July this year due to crew shortages. They simply did not have enough pilots to operate all the flights. Additionally, many travelers are excited to be able to travel again, making travel demand grow faster than some airlines can accommodate. Hiring and training new flight crews is not a simple or quick task. It takes quite a while to get a new flight crew hired and up to speed on a specific airline’s operation and to become trained on a new aircraft.

On the other side of the globe, Australian Airliner, Qantas and its subsidiary, Jetstar Airways, are suffering staffing issues in their own unique way. Close to 2,500 Qantas and Jetstar Airways employees are being temporarily laid off with no pay. This could last up to two months and is in direct response to a flurry of new COVID-19 cases throughout Australia. These new cases have caused a sudden and major drop in demand due to COVID-19 restrictions all over the country. Pilots, flight attendants, ground support staff and airport staff will all be affected.

Amidst all of the confusion, Qantas also found itself embroiled in a battle with the Transport Workers Union over outsourcing 2,000 ground workers jobs. The Union believes Qantas wanted to outsource the jobs in order to prevent ground workers from taking industrial action. They are saying Qantas is using the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as a scapegoat. Despite all of this, the Transport Workers Union won a partial victory in court against Qantas.

Credit: David Jackmanson

Even though travel demand is bouncing back, airlines like American Airlines are having trouble accommodating the quick surge. It shows that pilot shortage is still real and in general, the airline industry has major staffing issues. Furthermore, new COVID outbreaks are forcing airlines to make difficult decisions regarding current staff, often ending in court battles with worker’s unions and layoffs.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

My name is Hashaun Adderley and I was born and raised in The Bahamas. I am an aviation writer/photographer and audio engineer. I am also a student at Wayman Aviation Academy enrolled in a commercial multi-engine professional pilot program. Currently, I hold a private pilot and aircraft dispatcher certificate and am in the process of completing instrument training. Growing up in The Bahamas I was fortunate enough to be able to work various summer jobs in between high school and college at the airport as an aircraft cleaner, ramp agent and customer service agent. After leaving college in 2015, I got a job at a local Bahamian airline in the marketing department since I majored in media journalism and also had media experience from working as an audio engineer. Later after earning an aircraft dispatcher license I started working as a dispatcher for that same airline as well. I left the airline at the end of 2018 to produce aviation media full-time.