British Airways offers £1,000 'welcome bonus' to cabin crew with security clearances

Airline launches recruitment campaign after crisis at airports

Airline staff speak with holidaymakers and travellers as they queue at a check-in desk in the departure hall of Terminal 2 at London Heathrow Airport. AFP

British Airways has offered £1,000 “welcome bonuses” to cabin crew with security clearances after staff shortages led to delays, cancellations and queues of frustrated passengers at airports.

Airlines and airports have been struggling with staffing problems caused by coronavirus related sicknesses and an increase rise in passenger numbers.

In a new recruitment campaign, it is offering cash incentives to cabin crew “who hold a current Heathrow or Stansted airside ID”.

“For candidates who are successfully offered a role through this campaign, we’re offering a welcome bonus of £1,000 — paid in two instalments — £500 after your first three months, £500 after six months in role,” the advertisement said.

Carriers and airports are struggling to recruit more staff because of delays in processing security checks, which can take up to 15 weeks.

Heathrow Airport has advertised for 12,000 more staff as passengers have faced long delays and chaos over the Easter holidays. It has also drafted in staff from across the UK to ease the backlog.

Travel industry analysts expect the situation will get worse at the height of the Easter getaway as thousands head to airports on Good Friday.

More than 20,000 people have been affected by cancellations so far, British Airways and easyJet have accounted for three-quarters of all flights affected last week.

British Airways has stipulated that recruits must be able to start work before the summer to be eligible for the cash incentive.

“Applicants with a notice period or other circumstances which prevents them from being able to commence training before July 2022 may not be eligible for the welcome bonus,” it said.

The staffing crisis arose after thousands of airline staff were put out of work during the pandemic.

Now, the rapid rise in travel volumes has put pressure on airports and the carriers that use them to prepare for operations after two years of stop-and-start business.

Good Friday is likely to be the busiest day of Easter, with 2,430 flights scheduled to leave the UK and more than 9,000 to fly over the bank holiday weekend.

Heathrow said it expects summer travel season 2022 at its peak to approach 2019 levels.

EasyJet's chief executive Johan Lundgren said the airline is waiting for the Department for Transport to give permission for about 100 members of staff to start work.

EasyJet has cancelled hundreds of flights in recent days, mainly on routes serving Gatwick Airport in West Sussex.

Mr Lundgren said this was primarily the result of high levels of coronavirus-related staff absences but also blamed the time it takes for the government to vet recruits.

Passengers check-in at a crowded Heathrow Airport. PA

“There’s a backlog there and we’re waiting currently for about 100 cabin crew to get their IDs,” he said.

“There’s a three-week delay on that. That has had an impact. If that would have been on time, we would have seen less cancellations.”

The government denied there are delays.

“There are absolutely no delays to security vetting of applicants,” it said.

“It is wrong to suggest otherwise, and we are prioritising vetting applications from the aviation industry.

“It is for the aviation industry to manage resourcing at airports and staff absences, especially at busy times of the year.”

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Updated: April 13, 2022, 11:21 AM
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