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European airports overheated


The traffic jams of departures and returns from holidays are also observed in the air. As soon as the health restrictions were lifted, traffic at European airports resumed with a vengeance. According to the European branch of Airports Council International (ACI), passenger traffic in March was the best recorded since the start of the pandemic.

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For the Parisian airports of Orly and Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle alone, the number of passengers rose from 4.7 million to 14.6 million between the first quarter of 2021 and the same period of 2022. The Aéroports de Paris group (ADP), in charge of the two infrastructures, also recorded an 80% increase in its turnover relating to aeronautical activities in the first quarter of 2022 compared to 2021, i.e. 322 million euros. And it’s not over: Air France-KLM, Lufthansa and the IAG group (British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus), which have just published encouraging quarterly results, are anticipating a brilliant summer in terms of bookings already recorded.

Canceled flights

While airport traffic still remains below 2019 figures, travelers have seen long queues in the terminals. Some holidaymakers have also seen their flights canceled due to excessive passenger traffic, like the KLM company which had to cancel a dozen flights last weekend at Amsterdam-Schiphol airport.

These malfunctions are rooted in the shortage of staff to deal with the return of travelers. Successive confinements, combined with border restrictions, have led to a drastic drop in airport activity, causing many employee departures.

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The managing director of ACI Europe, Olivier Jankovec, deplores in a press release the “extremely limited resources” to handle the sudden increase in traffic, as well as difficulties in recruiting staff “in a very tight labor market in Europe”. Finding solutions is becoming urgent, in a context where barriers between countries are gradually rising and where the summer holidays are approaching.

The tension is also felt in France: This is a problem encountered at European level as well as at national level, which affects all airport activities, explains Nicolas Paulissen, General Delegate of the Union of French Airports (UAF). We didn’t expect attendance to increase so quickly. »

Airports and their subcontractors are therefore looking for professionals in different sectors: maintenance technicians and engineers, but also trades and catering on sites open to the public. According to the UAF, the sector suffering the most from this lack of employees is that of airport security, responsible for baggage inspection and security checks.

The arrival of the summer period also worries employees, who are already suffering from the lack of staff: “The agents are working at full speed, they are overworked, and this in all sectors”, explains Fabrice Criquet, secretary of the Force Ouvrière ADP union. They fear an increase in their working hours without sufficient wage increases, in a context where inflation weighs heavily on workers’ budgets.

4,000 vacancies at ADP

The price of fuel increases and the agents have to come on site more often, develops Fabrice Criquet. If wages do not increase, some people consider quitting because it is not profitable for them. »

For the unions, the recruitment difficulties have their origin in remuneration deemed too low. Staff representatives agree on the need to revise salary scales upwards for all airport jobs, as activity picks up. The management of ADP must present a revaluation of the salary scales in the coming days, a few weeks after the announcement of the CEO, Augustin de Romanet, that some 4,000 positions are to be filled.

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Airports are looking for a long-term strategy to make airport jobs more attractive. In Paris as elsewhere, the negotiation of branch agreements should focus on wages and the organization of working time.


Air France is testing ways to reduce its CO emissions2

The airline estimates that it has halved CO emissions2 during two test flights carried out at the beginning of May, one to Montreal, the other to Lisbon. Among the levers used: latest-generation devices that consume less fuel; the partial use of non-fossil fuel produced from biomass; the implementation of eco-driving actions by the pilots such as taxiing on a single engine on the ground or the optimization of trajectories in real time.

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