Travel Chaos - is there a solution?

Published: June 7th, 2022

7 min read

It is no secret that the travel and aviation industry is currently struggling to cope with demand post Covid-19. The news is inundated with reports of holiday and flight cancellations and several hour delays at airports in security, check-in, and delays in retrieving luggage at airports all over the country, with its peak being over the half term holidays and Jubilee Bank holiday weekend.

Both the government and the aviation and travel industry are at loggerheads with one another as to who is responsible for these failings, with staff shortages seeming to be the overarching reasons for the chaos. Those in government blame the aviation and travel industry for their own down fall such as Labour's Shadow Scotland secretary, Ian Murray stating "it was quite clear the travel industry has been in trouble for some time in terms of trying to recruit staff," however, those in the industry blame the government such as Oliver Richardson, who is the aviation officer at the Unite union stating that the "government should have done far more to support the industry during the pandemic." He also notes that the government failed to address a request of a "specific extension of the furlough scheme for the sector which would carry on through the winter."

Steve Heapy who is the chief executive of Jet2.com has blamed Brexit for the shortage of staff.

But what is the solution….?

Companies in the travel and aviation industry asked the government for special immigration visas for overseas workers at a meeting with Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary on Wednesday 1st June 2022. Industry experts proposed to the Transport Secretary that a potential solution would be to allow EU workers to cover the operational vacancies as the travel sector approaches the peak summer holidays in July and August. The government considered changes to the Shortage Occupation list, however, government ministers opposed this idea.

The Shortage Occupation List is an index of Skilled Occupations of the UK Immigration rules, which comprises those roles deemed by the UK Government to be in short supply within the UK labour market such as Care workers and home carers and careers in the arts, meaning that roles under this list are afforded more relaxed eligibility criteria for sponsored work visa applications.

In the immediate short term, without a solution such as adding workers in the travel and aviation industry to the shortage occupation list, those in the travel industry will have to consider carefully how they attract and importantly retain staff through these challenging times.

Higher salaries are not always the solution, most employees now expect some form of flexible/hybrid working and businesses should consider what other benefits they offer and focus on their employer branding to attract talent.

If they don't the chaos which has ensued at the UK's airports recently will be set to continue for some time.

If you are a business facing recruitment challenges and want to explore the sponsorship of migrants into skilled roles contact Amy Stokes, Head of Business Immigration for further information.

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