Flight attendants at German flag carrier Lufthansa have been left irked and frustrated by a long-running delay in getting new and replacement uniform items. The airline is blaming the supply woes on the after-effects of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
Some of the more popular items, including blazers, shirts, and blouses, are currently unavailable, leading to some flight attendants trying to swap clothing with colleagues in a bid to have clothing to wear on a flight.
Frustrations have apparently boiled over on Lufthansa’s internal social media platform, with some employees jokingly threatening to carry out the inflight service in the buff because they don’t have enough suitable clothing to wear.
A spokesperson for the Ver.di union, which represents some uniform wearers at the airline says the situation has been progressively getting worse with continuing supply chain issues blighting the industry.
Lufthansa says it has been hit by “temporary bottlenecks, which also affected replacement procurements for some uniform articles and sizes”.
A spokesperson added that the situation is now starting to show some signs of improvement and that the airline has found additional suppliers to increase the amount of uniform available to its staff.
The issues are not just limited to Lufthansa, with a number of major international airlines facing similar problems trying to dress their staff. Some airlines that normally pride themselves on having immaculately turned out staff have been forced to relax rules in recent months because damaged or heavily worn uniforms simply can’t be replaced.
The problems have been made worse because most of the industry has been in a rush to hire back tens of thousands of employees who were lost during the pandemic.
During the pandemic, some airlines heavily restricted access to replacement uniforms in a bid to save money, meaning there is now unprecedented demand for new uniform items.
In some cases, new hire flight attendants have been sent out of training with the absolute bare minimum of clothing and simply told to go without other items that, before the pandemic, would have been considered essential.
Just as the pandemic struck in early 2020, British Airways warned production of its new Ozwald Boateng-designed uniform would be slowed by production delays in Shanghai due to social distancing restrictions.
As China reopens to the world and COVID infections begin to stabilize, airlines are hoping that the worse of their supply chain dramas is now coming to an end.
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.