Following a tumultuous couple of years, many airports are still reeling from the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. Airports across the country (and, indeed, the globe) are seeing delays, queues and cancelled flights and, as the industry attempts to solve these problems, training and induction are becoming more important than ever.

Easter weekend (traditionally one of the busiest weekends of the year for aviation) saw huge numbers of flight cancellations. According to aviation analytics firm Cirium, 1,236 flights were cancelled between March 28th and April 12th 2022 and British Airways and EasyJet were two of the firms experiencing the worst delays and cancellations.

Why is the airport industry experiencing delays?

With air travel slowly returning to pre-pandemic levels, the aviation industry is struggling to keep up. The reason? Staff shortages and illness and the time taken to onboard and train new staff. When the pandemic hit, the airline industry was one of the worst affected. As flight numbers reduced drastically, airlines released staff from contracts and airport staff were forced to look outside the industry for work. And now, many of those skilled employees have left the profession and found secure employment elsewhere.

Add to this, the high numbers of staff affected by the ongoing Covid-19 illness (made all the more prevalent by the public-facing, social nature of the roles) and staff sickness levels are at an all-time high.

Can’t the aviation industry simply hire additional staff?

The aviation industry is aggressively and actively recruiting but there’s a lot to consider – a new employee cannot be hired on a Monday and set to work the next day. The nature of aviation means that training – sometimes extensive training, security vetting and legal certification – is required for all staff, even the entry level positions. When you include more specialised roles such as ground handling providers, security, gate staff and airline staff, you can see what a huge undertaking onboarding and recruitment can be.

How can airport onboarding and recruitment be improved?

In-person training and paper-based certification is a long-winded process. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) are focussing on the improvement in digitisation of training and certification in a bid to simplify and streamline the airport training process.

Monika Mejstrikova, IATA’s Director of Ground Operations, laid out a series of measures that could help the industry overcome their staffing shortages. As well as wage subsidies, she recommended, 

“The use of competency-based training, assessments and online training formats should be increased, and training requirements harmonised… a training passport should be developed that would mutually recognize skills across ground handlers, airlines and/or airports.”

How can airports take control of the training process?

Of course, training and certification is nothing new in aviation but as the volume of new staff requiring a full and comprehensive training plan increases so does the need for a training system that can unload some of the burden from HR and hiring managers. Traditionally, staff come onboard in small numbers but right now airports are seeing recruitment drives for hundreds or even thousands of additional staff members at any one time.

A comprehensive airport training system such as AIRDAT’s Passport, is designed to take the pain out of onboarding large numbers of staff. Passport has been proven time and again with inducting 1000s of airport personnel for instances such as winter ops, summer recruitment drives and opening a new terminals – read more about AIRDAT Passport used Manchester Airports Terminal 2 expansion.

AIRDAT’s Passport utilises intuitive, cloud-based software to consolidate all training, auditing and compliance processes into one. Passport encompasses all types of airport training, such as: airside safety & driver training, contractor inductions, fire warden, airport familiarisations. For hiring managers having to oversee this training and certification, it’s the ideal choice.

The importance of airport compliance 

With all of this new starter training and onboarding comes a wealth of paperwork for new companies wishing to operate at an airport. Onboard, AIRDAT’s airport compliance system is designed to lighten the load. The highly adaptable system can be tailored to a variety of different airport needs and has been seen to reduce admin by up to 75%. The online system monitors and tracks all regulation requirements for airport companies ensuring airport compliance and safety is maintained at all times.

The final word

The aviation industry is experiencing unprecedented upheaval right now but safety, certification and training are steadfast requirements that are here to stay. Forward-thinking airport managers have the opportunity to make use of systems specifically designed to ease the burden of onboarding. But, those that choose not to modernise, are at risk of being left at the end of the very long queue!