Heathrow warns that 13,000 more employees are needed to keep up with demand

Heathrow Airport (Steve Parsons / PA) (PA Wire)

Heathrow warned today that an additional 13,000 employees need to be hired at the airport if there is any chance of meeting anticipated passenger levels on busy days.

In a statement with its findings for the first nine months of the year, it is stated that over 18 million passengers used Heathrow during the summer – more than any other European hub – as people returned to international travel after two years. of Covid blocks and restrictions.

But he said the 400 companies using Heathrow face a “huge logistical challenge” to recruit the security-cleared staff they need to make the airport meet peak-hour demand.

Airport employers have struggled to find the number of staff such as baggage handlers they need after pandemic travel restrictions were lifted due to Brexit and competition from other higher paying companies. Before the pandemic, around 75,000 people worked at the airport.

Heathrow established “a recruiting task force to help fill vacancies, working closely with the government on an airline groundhandling review and appointing a senior operations executive to invest in the joint work.”

About half of the additional 25,000 employees he needed to find after the pandemic have been hired, but another 12,000-13,000 are still needed.

A flight limit introduced to control capacity is expected to be lifted on Sunday. But the airport said it is working with airlines on a new “highly targeted mechanism” to prevent further chaos at the airport on peak days in the run-up to Christmas.

The company added: “This would encourage demand in less crowded periods, protecting the heaviest peaks and avoiding the cancellation of flights due to resource pressure.”

The total number of passengers is expected to reach 60-62 million this year, about a quarter less than in 2019. The airport said “the headwinds of a global economic crisis, the war in Ukraine and the impact of the COVID-19 means that it is unlikely that we will return to pre-pandemic pandemic for a number of years, except during peak hours ”.

The airport remained in strong evidence in the first nine months of the year, although losses are shrinking as passenger numbers pick up. A loss of 442 million pounds compared to a deficit of over 1 billion pounds in the same period last year. Revenues tripled to £ 2.02 billion.

The company said: “Our balance sheet remains solid despite losses – Our underlying losses have increased to £ 0.4bn over the year as regulated income fails to cover costs, adding to £ 4bn in the year. two previous years. We have acted responsibly in an uncertain market to protect liquidity and cash flow and reduce gearing. We do not expect dividends this year. “

Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye said, “We have lifted the summer limit and are working with airlines and their ground attendants to get back to full capacity during peak hours as soon as possible. Looking ahead, we encourage AAC to rethink the long-term investment stimulus that will deliver the value of smoother and more predictable travel to consumers, rather than focusing on short-term prices which, as we have seen, only benefit airline profits. “

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