Britain’s biggest trade union has warned holiday-goers the airport mayhem is, very unfortunately, here to stay.
There’s nothing like a bit of airport chaos and lengthy delays to drain all the fun out of the excitement of going on holiday and in the last couple of months, this has slowly become the norm for many.
Similarly to when everyone thought Covid-19 would all be over by the end of the Easter holidays, Brits have now been warned to expect to see the delays, lengthy queues, and flight cancellations for far longer than just the half-term period.
Amid the pandemic, airlines reportedly laid off over 60,000 members of staff and Sharon Graham from Unite, Britain’s biggest trade union, believes this is a massive contributing factor to why there is now such chaos across so many of the UK’s airports.
Graham told The Mirror how sad it is to see families ‘who have saved up for their first holiday in three years’ now forced into ‘sleeping on airport floors, when they thought they’d be on the beach somewhere’.
“Purely and simply because there was corporate greed and lack of foresight about what was going to happen when you lost 60,000 jobs,” she continued.
After being laid off, many highly qualified airline workers were forced to search for jobs elsewhere.
Graham noted how even if airlines ask them to return, workers are unlikely to come back due to having found jobs without such long hours and with better pay.
She said: “Airlines assumed, wrongly, that people who had either been made redundant or got out of the industry would come back on a pittance pay. That’s not going to happen.
“There is now a chronic shortage of staff and I can’t see how it’s going to change by July. If they don’t get their act together, this chaos could go on until next year.”
Government ministers have similarly argued that airlines should have had more ‘foresight’ and employed more people sooner in sight of the end of the pandemic.
Travel agent Richard Slater, from Henbury Travel in Macclesfield, similarly said: “Jet2 took a punt on it and got their people ready to start in April and May. But other airlines, like Tui and EasyJet, sat on their hands and worried about whether they were going to be in lockdown forever.
“By the time they started recruiting in January, February and March they had missed the boat.”
However, Paul Charles of the PC Consultancy, called such a suggestion ‘outrageous’.
He said: “The Government delayed the opening of the industry due to the omicron variant. They didn’t offer any new furlough scheme, yet still closed down the industry in December.
“So there is no reason why airlines should have hired more people at that time. They could only start hiring again from March, when borders opened up further. And it takes three months to get people in position.”
Graham explained that more flight cancellations are anticipated due to pay cuts which occurred during the pandemic and staff subsequently striking.
She also blamed the Government, as despite the £8 billion in furlough wages it gave to airlines, the wages didn’t come with job guarantees.
She resolved: “Nobody wants to go on strike, but it’s difficult to see what else they can do when their pay has been cut in this way.
“What the Government has to do in the future is ensure investment comes with job guarantees. This is taxpayers’ money.
“And it’s the same taxpayers sitting on airport floors with their children because their flights have been cancelled.”