Aviation’s booming job market

Lufthansa’s announcement at the turn of the year that it will take on 2,400 new employees during 2006 is a good indicator of the relative health of the air transport business. As the carrier notes, most of the jobs will be in operational areas, with 1,420 new flight attendants and 220 ground staff being sought.

This is a picture being mirrored in many parts of the globe. Although traffic growth rates will slow this year, a steady rise means more flight, cabin and ground crew will be needed from Bangalore to Berlin.

Much of the demand for pilots is coming from the Middle East and India, while low-cost carriers in Europe and the Asia-Pacific are recruiting from every available source. The worry of course is that a tightening job market will push up wages, a trend already being seen in some markets.

Wage pressure is almost certain to be a stronger feature of the air transport job market during 2006. As the industry recovers, unions will naturally begin returning to the negotiating table to claw back concessions given during the tough times.

It will be a significant challenge for management to keep the lid on wage rises, while at the same pushing through contracts and working practices that feature greater productivity and flexibility.

And, as British Airways demonstrated recently, job cuts are far from finished at some carriers in some sectors of the workforce. It is reducing its management headcount by over a third between now and 2008, which will see some 600 posts being removed.

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