Dubai Airport and Emirates score with early reopening and rehiring

Dubai: Starting the full reopening of flights early has helped airlines and airports in the UAE avoid the clogging seen in the UK and US as authorities strive to get closer to normalcy.

Airports in the UK and US are experiencing long check-in queues and widespread flight cancellations. At the heart of the problem are severe staff shortages, which are a legacy of mass layoffs during the pandemic.

Thousands of miles to the east, Dubai Airport is in full swing, with around 2 million passengers crossing during the peak period between December and January. It experienced few delays and even fewer cancellations and that’s because the regional aviation hub was already back in business as early as July 2020.

“The continued re-employment of staff in a phased approach over the past 12 months has reduced the risk of facing a significant staff shortage at the airport,” said Linus Bauer, managing director of Bauer Aviation Advisory. “Since reopening it has removed the rust with continuous improvement initiatives during busy times like Christmas and Expo 2020.”

Back to hiring

Even airlines in the United Arab Emirates got on board early. Emirates and Etihad Airways had announced plans to recruit thousands of staff in the second half of 2021, even as large parts of Europe and Asia were under strict lockdown regimes.

“The root cause in the UK case appears to be delays in the ability of various aviation players to return to pre-pandemic levels,” said Sean Mendis, an aviation analyst. “The trend in the Middle East is towards earlier reopenings, so they had already accelerated significantly in 2021.”

Mendis said UK and US airports and airlines may have grossly underestimated staffing requirements for the busy travel period. “They had not anticipated the inability of the resources available to them to cope.”

An experienced and available workforce is no longer there for the industry. “A lot of people who had been laid off and were due to return to their jobs instead left the industry permanently, Mendis said. obviously longer delays.”

Too early?

Some analysts blame the UK’s hasty removal of travel restrictions for the current crisis. The country ended all testing and quarantine measures on March 18 to save its hard-hit aviation and tourism sectors.

“They went ahead unilaterally without consulting airlines or airport operators, which resulted in a rush to issue the necessary airport passes,” said John Grant, partner at Midas Aviation. . “With this process taking longer than normal – because issuing authorities don’t have the resources in place – airlines and airports have been unable to get people online and working.”

Additionally, many staff called in sick as the number of COVID-19 infections in the UK soared, setting records. “No one could have predicted such a massive Covid outbreak and delays in security clearances didn’t help,” Grant said.

The aviation expert does not believe a similar situation could occur in the United Arab Emirates. “A large portion of connecting passengers have already pre-approved certain travel requirements – they can get through the airport more easily and that obviously helps too.”

A digital shift

Passenger fluidity in DXB is facilitated by the adoption of technologies such as smart gates and contactless kiosks. More recently, Emirates introduced 25 mobile check-in ports at DXB Terminal 3. These portable units will be deployed in the terminal’s check-in halls.

“Smoother contactless travel has contributed to Dubai’s operational resilience as a global hub,” Bauer said.

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