JetBlue over-hiring as airline exodus continues

The boss of US low-fare carrier JetBlue has said it is necessary to over-hire staff because of the rate at which people are still leaving the industry.

Robin Hayes was speaking as thousands of travellers have been hit by recent disruption – caused largely by staff shortages that have blighted the re-start of air travel after the pandemic.

Airlines have cut summer schedules and made last-minute cancellations.

“I now need to over-hire just to keep the number I need,” he told the BBC.

“With COVID, we lost a lot of experienced people,” Hayes added.

Airports and airlines, which cut jobs during COVID lockdowns, have found it difficult to recruit enough staff as demand for holidays has surged.

JetBlue, a smaller scale airline than British Airways, Virgin and American Airlines had, he said, seen the situation “normalise” as the summer has progressed.

But he said the firm, like other airlines, had adjusted its hiring plan to cope with people leaving more quickly – by employing more staff.

By the end of 2022, half of JetBlue’s employees would have been with the airline for less than two years.

“Even if you can get the people, they don’t have the same experience as someone who was doing that job for 10 or 15 years, so it’s going to take longer for them to learn the skills,” said Hayes.

Those adjustments can take “some months” but Hayes said Jet Blue has increased its training capacity, added more simulators and built extra classrooms in order to keep hiring. (BBC)

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