With airport travel taking off at the same time the ability to find enough workers is stuck in a holding pattern, both the TSA and terminal restaurants are offering bonuses to lure more employees.
The Transportation Security Administration is trying to add 6,000 screeners by then end of September, and as part of that effort is offering $1,000 hiring bonuses, CNBC reports. About 4,000 screeners have been hired so far, according to a TSA spokeswoman.
Travelers at airports in Austin, Texas; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; and Charlotte, N.C., have been told to arrive up to three hours early recently because of the long lines in security, according to CNBC.
Airlines were given $54 billion in federal aid to avoid laying off workers in the early months of the pandemic when travel was severely impacted, but now many of them are in a frenzy to hire people to run their phone lines for reservations and other areas. The airlines cut staff to save money as the pandemic wore on.
But as vaccines freed up people to travel again, demand has outpaced the ability to replace those workers. Many of the new job gains have come from the leisure and hospitality industry, making it even harder for airport restaurants to find staff, where they must go through a federal security check that can take more than two weeks.
"Airports, even in normal times, have tremendous difficulty getting people to want to come to the airport to work," Earl Heffintrayer, senior airport analyst at Moody’s Investors Service, told CNBC.
Some airport employers believe the need for childcare or the enhanced unemployment benefits being paid have kept some people from applying for jobs.
The need for workers is so bad, that some airports are pushing for rules against concessionaires poaching the employees of their competitors.
"As you know, we are experiencing one of the greatest hiring challenges in the history of DFW Airport," Ken Buchanan, executive vice president of revenue management and customer experience, wrote to Dallas-Fort Worth concessionaires in a May 27 letter. "As we prepare for a busy summer, please continue to practice DFW Airport’s high standards of hiring operations and refrain from soliciting employees from other DFW operations."
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