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Airport concessions wrestle to maintain up with larger crowds: Journey Weekly

DENVER — On a latest Monday morning, Necole Lowe, the recruitment head for Prospect Airport Companies right here, sat behind…

By Staff , in Car Rentals , at August 14, 2021

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DENVER — On a latest Monday morning, Necole Lowe, the recruitment head for Prospect Airport Companies right here, sat behind a desk at Denver Airport’s out of doors plaza, the place a job honest was underway. 

Prospect, which contracts with Southwest, Delta and Frontier to supply wheelchair attendants and baggage handlers in Denver, has a bit greater than 200 staff on the payroll. Full staffing in Denver can be no less than 250 staff, Lowe mentioned. 

In its effort to shut that hole, the corporate has raised its lowest entry-level wage to $15.50 per hour from $14.50 per hour. Managerial pay has additionally been bumped up a greenback, to $19 per hour. 

Roughly halfway by way of this honest, Lowe is inspired. “I’ve no less than 10 resumes right here,” she mentioned. “I am completely happy. Very completely happy.”

Job festivals similar to this one have develop into commonplace at airports across the nation previously three or 4 months as airports and the myriad companies that function inside them try to lift staffing ranges to match the sudden ramp-up that occurred in U.S. air journey over the late spring and summer season. However on this present tight job market, filling positions has been a problem, particularly on the decrease finish of the pay scale. 

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“Translating an interview or any individual who reveals up with curiosity into them truly being employed can be tough,” mentioned Matt Cornelius, govt vp for the commerce group Airports Council Worldwide — North America. 

On at the present time in Denver, roughly 30 employers, together with the airport itself, United Airways, the TSA, the Westin airport lodge, varied airport retailers and eating places and others have been trying to fill greater than 700 positions. 

“We’re just about again to pre-pandemic ranges [of demand], with not as a lot staffing,” airport spokeswoman Alex Renteria reported. 

Southwest not too long ago mentioned that challenges hiring groundworkers in six to eight key stations, together with Denver, burdened its operation and performed a job in its subpar on-time efficiency and cancellation price by way of the primary half of the summer season.

Allegiant is one other service that has attributed operational difficulties to staffing shortfalls on the contracting corporations it makes use of for groundworkers. 

Renteria mentioned the varied employees shortages in Denver are having solely a average influence on flyers. 

“You may want to attend in line a bit of bit longer at considered one of our eating places due to the staffing. Simply convey your endurance with you,” she mentioned. 

However elsewhere, airport officers are describing extra pressing impacts.

T0816DenverFairSAS_rs [Credit: Robert Silk]

SAS Companies Group Denver basic supervisor Jorge Gonzalez at a latest job honest. The corporate offers wheelchair attendants for a number of airways. Photograph Credit score: Robert Silk

In Salt Lake Metropolis, for instance, the airport says that employers — together with the TSA, retailers, eating places and automobile rental corporations — are struggling to search out employees. 

Consequently, Salt Lake Metropolis is encouraging flyers to get to the airport additional early. 

“The difficulty has additionally delayed the opening of among the airport’s concessions,” spokeswoman Nancy Volmer mentioned.
Rob Wigington, govt director of the Airport Restaurant and Retail Affiliation (ARRA) commerce group, mentioned that he is heard many tales of latest airport job festivals that yielded few outcomes for concessionaires. One Florida-based airport concessionaire firm advised him that out of a pool of 400 candidates, they will count on to rent solely 4. 

The ARRA does not formally observe the share of airport retailers and eating places that both stay closed or have restricted hours or a restricted menu, however he estimates the quantity to be about 30%. In some instances, hours are nonetheless shortened as a result of restricted demand, however usually employees shortages are the trigger. 

Whereas hiring is a problem for plenty of service sector employers proper now, airport-based corporations face additional hurdles, each Wigington and Cornelius mentioned. One drawback is that many airports have distant places. One other problem is that any potential airport employee should clear federal background checks, a course of that may take days and even weeks, mentioned Cornelius. By the point these checks are full, the applicant has usually taken an identical sort of place, maybe nearer to his or her house. 

With restaurant and retail opening hours down at airports, hungry air passengers are sometimes feeling the brunt — a problem being amplified by the particularly tough time airways have had with operational reliability over the summer season.

Throughout the first week of August, for instance, Spirit Airways canceled greater than 60% of its flights systemwide on consecutive days. Episodes like that go away hundreds of flyers spending additional hours in airports, many gravitating towards no matter retailers and eating places are open. 

“It definitely does influence the expertise of the client, and never in a great way,” Cornelius mentioned. 

Again in Denver, Prospect Airport Companies is way from the one employer that has raised wages or begun providing hiring incentives in an effort to fill its openings. The administration firm that runs the airport Dunkin’ Donuts, for instance, was providing $500 sign-on bonuses for cashiers. 

Mission Yogurt, which manages 9 eating places within the airport, has upped beginning wages for line cooks from a minimal of $15 to a minimal of $18. 

Operations supervisor Paul Flores mentioned the corporate made that transfer sooner than different concessionaires, and it paid off. The entire eating places and quick-serve retailers underneath Mission administration are working full opening schedules. 

Nonetheless, the corporate wanted roughly 20 extra staff at that airport. 

For the job honest, Flores’ targets have been modest. 

“We would be completely happy to search out two or three,” he mentioned. 

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