JetBlue CEO Turns to Over-Hiring in Wake of Mass Departures

CEO of major low-cost carrier JetBlue Robin Hayes has commented recently that because of the troubling high statistics of staff departures, it is wise to over-hire staff. This is primarily because of the rate at which people are leaving the air travel industry contributing to the issue of staff shortages.

A necessary measure? 

JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes has recently commented that over-hiring has been the optimum choice to ensure the carrier has the staff it requires even if people do choose to leave. 

This comes as thousands of travellers across the globe have not been experiencing the smoothest of journeys due to delays, cancellations, and chaos at airports caused largely by staff shortages.

Staffing issues have blighted the impact of the intense demand for air travel following the pandemic, causing some airlines to sacrifice usual schedules by cutting summer operations to avoid even more chaos

A lack of staff cannot be solved overnight though, especially within the aviation industry. Staff often need to undergo crucial security screening beforehand, slowing down the recruitment process. So while airlines and airports have been working to fill the hole caused by the pandemic, it has been tricky.

JetBlue is the 7th largest airline in North America by passengers carried. | © Stefani Reynolds / AFP via Getty Images

Today, Hayes told the BBC that keeping the carrier running at optimum capacity has been difficult, citing that he has to “over-hire just to keep the number I need.” The pandemic didn’t help matters as Hayes added how “with covid, we lost a lot of experienced people.” 

JetBlue is a smaller airline compared to competitors American Airlines and British Airways. In a manner somewhat similar to Ryanair, this has helped the situation at JetBlue “normalise” as the summer has progressed, according to Hayes. 

But, similar to other airlines, JetBlue has had to adjust its hiring plan to cope with people leaving more quickly. The plan, it seems, is to over-hire and employ more staff than before. 

So, by the end of 2022, half of JetBlue’s employees would have been with the airline for less than 2 years. 

But according to Hayes, hiring more new employees is only half of the battle. 

“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.”

That process can take “some months” but Hayes added that the New York-based carrier had boosted its training capacity, has added more simulators, and built extra classrooms to keep hiring and keep training the extra capacity of new hires. 

JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes
JetBlue’s CEO Robin Hayes pictured in 2015 at John F. Kennedy International Airport. | © Kathy Willens / AP

A return to normal?

CEO Hayes told the BBC that he does not expect the aviation industry to be back to normal until next year. 

He added that airlines will be approaching 2023 more “cautiously” than they had done so this year. It echoes the sentiment that perhaps airlines got carried away with the prospect of increased demand following the pandemic as opposed to realistically approaching the idea. 

Ultimately, Hayes expects that business travel could recover to 80% of 2019 levels by the end of the year however, a very decent recovery depending on the way you look at it. 

What do you make of Robin Hayes’ comments? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below. 

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Jasmine Adjallah
Jasmine Adjallah
Jr Reporter - Aspiring to work in a journalism, PR, Communications/media role, Jasmine is using her gap year as an opportunity to learn, gain experience and grow as a person. Interested in the sports, aviation and broadcasting world. At Travel Radar she is a Jr. Reporter working with the publication over Summer 2022.


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