For the better part of the last year, staffing shortages have impacted airlines from the flight deck to the cabin to the ground to the terminal.
Now the industry might have two additional problems.
The two major airplane manufacturers, Boeing in the U.S., and Airbus in France are having supply chain issues that threaten to leave airlines with a shortage of planes.
In a story first reported by The Wall Street Journal, the industry’s most fundamental need – the equipment itself – is imperiled by what the newspaper described as two plane-makers being “months behind” in delivering new planes.
That has been evident with Boeing’s repeated delays in delivering Dreamliner planes to American Airlines. Now the Journal noted that the lack of production has affected both American and United Airlines.
Aviation experts say, however, that it’s not an immediate issue that will affect the industry or the traveling public but needs to be addressed now – something the airlines didn’t do when facing the pilot shortage even before the pandemic began.
In addition, there is also a more short-term issue – airplane parts suppliers in both the U.S. and Canada are now facing a lack of workers to produce those parts, threatening the supply chain.
According to Reuters, American manufacturers such as Precision Castparts Corp. and Howmet Aerospace are suffering from the same problem as the airlines. That is, they laid off too many workers during the height of the pandemic and are now struggling to hire more workers and catch up with the demand.
Reuters noted that aerospace employment is off 8.4 percent from 2019’s pre-pandemic year.
Even Canadian parts supplier Mitchell Aerospace says its worker shortage could prevent getting parts to airlines for up to a year. According to the media outlet, at least one province north of the border will need almost 40,000 more workers just to keep up with the demand for parts.
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