If industry professionals do not anticipate chaos like some European airports, the expected jump in traffic combined with staff shortages will lengthen waiting times.
Queues for boarding that extend to the outside of airports, endless waits during security checks, delays in clutter and brawl between passengers … These images of chaos are already observed in many European airports (London, Amsterdam …) and should still last this summer for the big holidays due to the lack of staff on the ground and on board planes.
French airports will not escape these malfunctions although the situation seems less tense than elsewhere in Europe.
“There will be a 15 to 20% shortage of staff at French airports. Furniture is being saved thanks to the partial unemployment set up during the health crisis that saved skills but not all,” said Thomas Juin, president of the Union of French Airports, which was speaking at the annual congress of the Fnam (National Federation of Aviation and its Trades) held this Thursday in Paris.
80 to 85% of the workforce will be present but regional disparities
No chaos in perspective but long waiting times: passengers will have to take precautions and arrive well in advance before take-off time (at least 3 hours). Because the most missing personnel are security guards and stopovers.
This shortage will be combined with a sharp rebound in traffic. “The activity for this summer is 20% higher to that of 2019, there is a very strong desire to travel, in fact the length of stays also increases by 20% “confirms Jean-Pierre Mas, president of travel companies.
One may wonder about this situation. The airline industry has been seeing this sharp recovery for several months, so why not anticipate by recruiting staff for this summer. The answer is simple: the sector has been scalded by the multiples stop-and-go due to the pandemic and candidates are becoming scarce.
To offer a good quality of service, French airports are desperately looking for 4,500 people. “We’re going to spend the summer but it’s going to be complicated. If overall we have 80/85% of the workforce, in some places like Lyon or Nantes, we can’t find anyone. We are being cannibalized by other employers like Amazon.” , says Didier Montegut, general manager of the 3S Alyzia group, a support operator for stopover airlines.
Many constraints that make young people run away
The airport world is in fact suffering from the same constraints of attractiveness as the hotel-restaurant for example. These include: delayed schedules, late schedules, lack of accessibility to infrastructure (no public transport in the middle of the night), short contracts and of course salaries.
But that’s not all. The industry deplores the very long recruitment delays between signing the contract and taking up the post, as many administrative authorizations (the famous badges) have to be obtained, especially for security-related jobs. “It’s enough to lose a candidate,” said Didier Montegut.
Not to mention the ignorance of the proposed trades and an image that no longer corresponds to reality. “Many young people now feel that working for the aviation industry is toxic. They don’t want to go anymore. The number of pro apprenticeship contracts is literally falling apart when we have the tools and the funding,” Raphaël Caccia, treasurer of the Akto, a specialist in vocational training.
“You have to go and talk to young people in working-class neighborhoods, tell them that an aircraft mechanic is no longer having their hands in the mud. There is a real ignorance of these trades,” added Michel Leprêtre, president of the establishment. Grand-Orly territorial public.
Lack of visibility that does not encourage long-term recruitment
It is therefore a matter of urgency to work on communication, attendance in high schools and colleges, highlight CFAs and of course increase salaries that are too low.
Above all, there are very few differences in pay between those who have a real qualification and those who do not. “Increasing salaries, revising the classification of occupations, the collective agreement are priorities,” said Raphaël Caccia. But the sector negotiations have been going on for a long time and the progress has been long in coming …
It will therefore be difficult or even impossible to recruit staff for the summer holidays today. Especially since uncertainty hovers over activity for the rest of the year. “Yes, there is a recovery in demand, but I am very cautious for the fall, our numbers are already showing a low for September-October,” said Marc Rochet, CEO of Air Caraïbes. As for business travel, it doesn’t take off again.
“Inflation, the mechanical rise in ticket prices due to oil and taxes, the international situation are all elements that make us very cautious, the recovery is not achieved, the autumn will be the time “confirms Thomas Juin of the French Airports Union.
This lack of visibility could therefore lead companies and airports not to recruit in the long run and fall back on a seasonality of hiring that repulses young people who might be most interested. So it’s the snake that bites its tail …