As the news of fresh strikes hits the stands, passengers face even more potential disruption to their travel plans. Now more than ever, therefore it is important to take a step back, look at the industry as a whole, and realize that recovery is only possible if pilots and airlines work in tandem. Most importantly, airlines need to be allowed to embrace the increased demand for flights in order to fuel their post-pandemic recovery and build reserves for future crises. But this is only possible if everyone gets on board.
There is one main opportunity facing airlines right now and that is the fact that people want to fly. Increased demand for flights could help lift the industry into recovery, but if supply issues continue it will prove a wasted opportunity. With fears that Alaska airlines will once again take to the picket, and almost 35 flights cancelled by the airline on Monday, the issue of further flight disruptions have been brought to the forefront of passengers’ minds. The uncertainty that they won’t be able to reach their destinations could see a retreat from the current upward trajectory.
Additionally, the industry faces other challenges, such as rising fuel costs and worker shortages. So now more than ever is the time to pull together both the efforts of crew and airlines and push through this vital stage. In a USTN interview, Nick Geale, former National Mediation Board Chair, outlined the importance of cooperation in the industry. He said, “I know both those carriers’ pilots unions and management worked together to avoid disruptions and ensure the least harm to employees and their customers during the pandemic. That model may be beneficial in developing a solution to any current issues also.”
It is clear that working together to avoid further disruptions will benefit both the airlines and the pilots. Airlines are already putting in the efforts to encourage both pilots and cabin crew into the industry. Companies such as Delta Airlines have planned to hire 4,500 new flight attendants before the end of 2022. These actions highlight that this shortage is only short-term, with more, and more cabin crew and pilots being hired it will not be long until the industry is back on track.
In his interview, Nick also outlined his confidence that the industry will bounce back – viewing the current challenges as only temporary. He said, “I am optimistic that as we emerge from the pandemic all aspects of these vital industries will have a successful recovery.” Airlines have already outlined that they are doing all they can to ensure customers’ needs are met, but there is only so much that can be done without the support of their staff.
Moving forward the airline industry needs to focus on returning to the pre-pandemic industry boom. Through a joint partnership between leadership, cabin crew and pilots recovery is very much within their reach. Uncertainty has rocked the industry before, but this time rising passenger demand has shown that people are confident that they want to fly. Still, the only way this will be possible is if pilots and airlines work together to get the industry back on track.