Airlines, airports and others seek thousands of staff amid shortages

Ashley Hodak’s new career is about to take off.

The 27-year-old former childcare and administration worker just finished her five-and-a-half-week flight attendant training program with Virgin Australia. Next week she will join fellow cabin crew for her first flight from Sydney, destination Hamilton Island.

“I’m so excited!” she said.

“I’ve experienced the nine-to-five Monday-to-Friday routine, but I wanted a different lifestyle, and I’ve always had a passion to be a flight attendant. Now I absolutely love it, and how the days will be all so different. It’s so cool to get paid to travel and become a part of people’s holidays.”

If you’ve ever dreamed of a career in the travel industry, there’s never been a better time to join, with thousands of jobs now on offer in Australia – and often at better-than-usual pay rates.

Those roles range from flight attendants to pilots, baggage handlers to airport café workers, travel IT specialists to agents, accountants to flight check-in staff, and everything in between.

“It’s an absolutely wonderful time to be thinking about joining the travel industry, with all sorts of jobs on offer, from entry level staff to pilots,” said Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive Margy Osmond.

“The industry has essentially lost a whole generation of workers from people leaving during the pandemic, and it’s now offering more money because it needs to fill these vacancies from a recovery perspective.”

Virgin Australia, like many of the world’s major airlines, is now recruiting for hundreds of roles within cabin crew, baggage handling, guest services and corporate, with perks including heavily discounted air travel and annual travel credits.

“We strive to create a workplace culture which emphasizes an authentic, fun loving, hardworking and irreverent challenger nature,” a Virgin spokesperson said.

Qantas and Jetstar have just recruited more than 1000 people into operational roles, and are still seeking many more, especially with international flights restarting, new aircraft on order and additional routes being planned.

“Restarting an airline after a two-year grounding is complex, and aviation labor markets, as with many others, are extremely tight,” said Qantas domestic and international chief executive Andrew David.

New Australian budget airline Bonza – set to launch in September – is also recruiting for its Sunshine Coast and Melbourne bases, with assessment centers running in parallel with crew training schools.

“We have around 100 cabin crew and 50 pilot roles being filled in a two-month period,” said Bonza chief executive Tim Jordan.

“We’re also hiring a number of other legends [staff] to join our team including crew controllers, operations controllers, and flight dispatchers on the Sunshine Coast, as well as specialist roles such as in e-commerce, marketing, operations, and finance.”

Middle East carrier Emirates is also on the lookout for prospective Australian candidates to join its cabin crew, with a series of recruitment open days around the country.

Emirates’ divisional vice president for Australasia Barry Brown said “as the travel demand continues to increase and we ramp up our operations locally and globally, naturally we need to continue building our cabin crew team in the sky.

“Australians are well represented in our global workforce, and with significant interest in our previous open days in Australia, we have great optimism that this next wave of recruitment will welcome more Australian talent to our workforce.”

Qatar Airways has similarly been advertising globally for new staff, looking for all categories of cabin crew, lounge staff, call center workers, ground operations and catering staff, especially in the run-up to the FIFA World Cup in Doha later this year.

Singapore Airlines is also recruiting operational and commercial staff, with particular emphasis on ground handlers, catering and ground operations; it recruits cabin staff from Asia.

The main airports at Sydney and Melbourne have also been running job fairs to attract applicants to the hundreds of vacancies both still have, alongside their ground handling companies recruiting baggage handlers.

“Now that the uncertainty caused by lockdowns and border closures has ended, we hope that more people will consider a career with the airport or the airlines,” said a Melbourne Airport spokesperson.

“As one of the largest employment hubs in Victoria, there are hundreds of roles that need filling.”

Sydney Airport has similarly been advertising more than 5000 jobs in retail, government agencies and terminal service providers, after having lost 15,000 jobs during the pandemic. Its jobs fair on June 16 had 4,600 applications for jobs, with people lining up at the airport from 6am for the 10am start.

The average salaries in the travel industry

Pilot: $104,461 per year or $53.57 per hour plus allowances (depending on the size of the aircraft being flown, and the years of experience)

Flight attendant: $66,670 or $32.00 per hour

Baggage handler: $61,000 or $29.33 per hour

Airport cafe worker: $55,000 or $26.44 per hour

Airport payroll officer: $71,384 or $34.31 per hour

Airport engineer: $90,000 or $43.27 per hour

Security supervisor: $71,469 or $34.36 per hour

Airport receptionist: $60,000 or $28.85 per hour

Air traffic controller: $109,661 or $52.72 per hour

Source: Fair Work Ombudsman, payscale.com, au.indeed.com and seek.com

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