Spirit Airlines appears to be betting on the recovery of the aviation industry following its worst crisis. The airline is set to begin hiring pilots and once more having frozen new hires as it dealt with the height of the COVID-19 pandemic almost a year ago.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating effects on much of the aviation industry. Many have been laid off around the world as the airlines simply had no work to give out with their fleets grounded. Thankfully for US airline employees, many were protected by the government’s payroll support scheme.
Looking beyond the pandemic
Spirit Airlines is beginning to look beyond the pandemic, according to CNBC. According to the publication, the airline will resume training for new pilots and flight attendants in March. This will be the first time it has undertaken pilot training since May and flight attendant training since February 2020.
Spirit Airlines’ challenge is balancing the training of new hires with those who have been on extended leave. In the airline’s Q4 results call, CEO Ted Christie said,
“bringing [existing employees] back online requires some training, and that does have expense with it, as well as time. And we have a fixed set of resources that we can use to get those people through training, both in fixed plant, in simulators and in trainers themselves… That ends up being a little bit more of a limiter in addition to the hiring that we’ll have to do to staff the additional airplanes that are being delivered as we speak.”
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Meanwhile, the airline’s CFO Scott Haralson added that the airline had missed out on roughly a year’s worth of hiring. He added that to catch up, the airline has “got to do that again over a condensed period.”
How are things going in the United States?
Many airlines worldwide are still being forced to reckon with the immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Compared to the situation in Europe, the United States aviation industry is currently doing relatively well. In Europe, airlines are presently faced with flight levels similar to the first wave of the crisis experienced in April 2020.
According to data from RadarBox.com last week, Intra-Europe flights were down 74.38% year on year. On its worst week, European aviation was averaging 1,289 per day over the seven days. For comparison, the seven-day average stood at 4,560 last week.
However, in the United States, domestic flights were only down 34.97%. Compared to an average of 7,688 flights per day over the worst seven day period in April 2020. For comparison, this sat at 16,682 flights per day last week.
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