JetBlue boss Robin Hayes says the Long Island-based airline is over-hiring new workers because existing employees are leaving the beleaguered carrier in their droves.
Earlier this year, severe staff shortages forced JetBlue to slash its planned summer schedule and while the airline appears to have now stabilized the situation, Hayes admits that JetBlue is struggling to retain staff.
“I now need to over-hire just to keep the number I need,” Hayes told the BBC on Sunday. “With Covid, we lost a lot of experienced people,” he continued.
JetBlue estimates that by the end of the year, half of its workforce will have been with the airline for less than two years.
“Even if you can get the people, they don’t have the same experience as someone who was doing that job for 10 or 15 years, so it’s going to take longer for them to learn the skills,” Hayes bemoaned.
The upside for JetBlue, of course, is that new staff generally start on lower pay scales which could translate into significant cost savings for the loss-making carrier.
Last week, the airline made a pre-tax loss of $151 million in the second quarter of 2022 and had seen operating expenses per available seat mile surge by 34.7 percent in the last three months.
JetBlue’s chief financial officer Ursula Hurley blamed April’s “operational headwinds” alongside a sharp increase in fuel prices and unspecified investments for the huge loss.
In his interview with the BBC, Hayes suggested that higher and faster attrition could be a long-term trend but the airline has also been battling plenty of short-term staffing woes.
In May, JetBlue’s own flight attendants said they opposed the carrier’s takeover of low-cost rival Spirit because JetBlue had “proven itself to be an abusive employer”.
The Transport Workers Union (TWU) accused the airline of “disregarding the well-being of its workforce” when it came out in opposition to the takeover. The union has also claimed flight attendants are at “breaking point” and are “physically and mentally exhausted”.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.