The commercial aviation sector has been somewhat caught off guard by the large number of tourists returning this summer, with chaotic scenes as Dublin Airport struggled to manage crowds and London Heathrow slumped. was preparing to limit the number of passengers until October.
As in many other industries, staffing has been an issue and, according to John Farrellyowner and general manager of Propeller Recruitmentthe demand for critical roles in aviation is higher than ever,
Ryanair is now operating 3,000 flights a week, a 15% increase on the same period in 2019, while airlines like EasyJet and Turkish Airlines are also close to or have exceeded their pre-Covid capacity.
Overall, an average of over 30,000 daily flights is 87.3% of 2019 levels, and intra-European traffic is now at 90% of 2019 levels, showing how much the turnaround has been quick, with airlines previously forecasting that traffic would not return to pre-Covid levels until next year.
At the start of the pandemic, Farrelly – who worked in recruitment for 14 years and led the aviation divisions at Sigmar Recruitment before launching Propeller in 2018 – focused on commercial aviation to cargo carriers, sensing how vital cargo flights and the wider supply chain would become amid the global crisis.
Propeller has invested heavily in airline data so they can closely monitor trends and capitalize on what Farrelly described as the “industry’s biggest growth area”, believing that airlines have “the best brand employer” in the sector and that people are keen to work for them.
The company uses CH Aviation software for airline intelligence and the Vincere applicant tracking system for day-to-day operations, and Farrelly says the company has seen a very good return on investment after investing in its LinkedIn presence.
“As a company, agility has always been something intrinsic to the way we run things. Moving to freight carriers wasn’t really a challenge. In terms of the recruitment process, recruiting for a cargo carrier is no different than a passenger carrier, actually.
“We haven’t stopped working with these customers – they’re great airlines to work with. More than 90% of the positions we fill are through targeted research. The best people don’t apply for jobs…so running a service and building a network and other things we do to attract the best people to apply for freight and passenger services, and we’ve continued to support both.
Propeller specializes in start-up airlines, but does not help hire pilots and cabin crew, but rather find executives and ground crew (maintenance, engineering) and operations and compliance personnel , usually mid to upper level.
The company has worked with Irish airlines establishing arms in the UK to protect against Brexit, but Farrelly is mainly focused on Arajet, a low-cost start-up airline based in the Dominican Republic, and the Latin American region. at large.
“A driver for many start-up airlines is an opportunity,” he explains. “First of all, planes are cheaper than they were before the pandemic, both in leasing and buying planes, so there is an opportunity to keep costs relatively low, and demand is currently increasing globally.”
Demand for Propeller’s services has been “intense” in recent months with a number of major airlines in Ireland, the UK and the EU looking to hire the company, but markets in South America and in the Caribbean saw an even faster return to demand.
“The industry has a tremendous pool of talent in Latin America. As we invest in the best recruiting software, we have the ability to contact the best candidates in the industry, regardless of location, and this has been a brilliant project and a part of the world we have yet to recruit from, which took a long time to recruit managers and vice presidents.
“And they have very ambitious growth plans for the future, so we’re going to continue to do that and dive into the Latin American market a bit while supporting the airline customers we have here in Ireland, in the UK. UK, Europe and the US Middle East.”
Among the challenges currently facing major European airports, Farrelly said that in June 85% of departures from Dublin Airport were late and 1.4% of flights were cancelled.
“Context is very important, and a good starting point to alleviate staffing issues is to improve the working conditions of people working at the airport and also find a way to bring back qualified people who have left the airport. industry, where job security is a high priority.
“In this country, and again this has happened globally, we just lost some brilliant people in the aviation industry to the pharmaceutical industry…and bringing those people back will be a challenge. major,” he said, adding that the pharmaceutical industry, as another highly regulated industry, wanted to attract people with expertise in legal and regulatory compliance.
“Security staff, baggage handlers – if you hire them, people need to be trained; it takes time. All airports are suffering because the increase in demand has been incredible. I have never seen such a request for recruitment in the first six months, and I don’t think I will ever see it again.
He went on to stress that terms and conditions were important in ending recruitment struggles, saying people should be compensated fairly, especially in light of the cost of living crisis, adding however that there is no was no easy solution.
“There is always room for improvement, but I think we also have to be fair, an airline is an incredibly complex business. Going in and out of a pandemic is unheard of – it’s the worst thing ever arrival to the aeronautical industry in its history.
“So I think airlines have done very well, but demand has increased, people have left the industry and there are significant challenges there. In my opinion, they have managed them well and will continue to do so in the future, given the opportunity.
Photo: John Farrelly