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Budget airline aims to lure ‘empty nesters’ and over-45s to plug cabin crew shortage

British airline easyJet is asking older adults to consider a major career pivot to help it deal with an ongoing staff shortage.

The company said Thursday that it was encouraging “empty nesters” and “anyone looking for a new career challenge later in life” to apply for cabin crew positions.

Over-45s had a “wealth of life experience” that made them ideal candidates for the job, easyJet said, with many people in this age group having developed transferable skills like customer service and people management throughout their working lives.

EasyJet said since 2018, it had seen a 27% increase in the number of its cabin crew members over the age of 45, and a 30% rise in those older than 60 in the last year.

A survey of 2,000 British adults carried out by the budget airline recently found that more than half of over-45s wanted to start a new career once their children had left the family home.

One of easyJet’s new recruits, 59-year-old Neil, said in a press release on Thursday that he had followed his 29-year-old daughter Holly into a career as cabin crew.

“I decided I needed a new challenge and wanted a job I could enjoy and would look forward to work each day,” he said. “Knowing how much Holly loved the job and with her encouragement I applied and found myself … training and I have loved it ever since.”

Michael Brown, easyJet’s director of cabin services, said in a statement that cabin crew roles were ideal for anyone with “a passion for travel and people [who] wants a job that’s different every day.”

Airlines still facing staffing crunch

As demand for travel has picked up after the lifting of pandemic-era restrictions, Europe’s aviation industry has struggled to cope with suddenly overwhelming passenger numbers. Many airlines downsized their workforces to stay afloat as global COVID regulations ravaged the travel sector, and have struggled to recruit staff quickly enough to keep up with surging demand.

EasyJet itself said in 2020 that it would have to cut around 30% of its workforce as the pandemic took a toll, and found itself cutting dozens of flights over the summer of this year “due to the ongoing challenging operating environment.”

While staff shortages are being felt across the global aviation sector, the U.K.’s airlines and airports are facing additional recruitment hurdles, including a pandemic-induced backlog that is slowing down the processing of government background checks, as well as the shrinking of the cabin crew recruitment pool post-Brexit.

During the peak summer season, passengers faced long lines and delays at understaffed British airports.

Following the chaos over the summer, London’s Heathrow airport—the busiest airport in Europeimposed a two-month cap on daily passenger departures. Last month, the airport’s CEO warned that another limit on passenger numbers may need to be imposed over the busy holiday season in December.

British airlines have come up with creative ways to entice people into the industry, with easyJet and British Airways offering joining bonuses of more than $1,000 earlier this year as they scrambled to recruit summer staff.

Virgin Atlantic, meanwhile, has doubled down on its diversity and inclusion policies, offering its staff freedom to display their tattoos and wear more gender inclusive uniforms.

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