The COVID pandemic has hit the aviation sector hard, with staff retention and hiring feeling a big impact
A word that most companies do not want to hear is “high turnover”, the act of training new hires is not only time-consuming but also expensive. With the current Great Resignation upon us, it is safe to say that the COVID pandemic has taken turnover rates to new heights, and it is heavily affecting the aviation industry. As if facing staff resignations is not enough, airlines have also been hit hard with staff shortages associated with COVID cases among staff.
Airlines have the equipment to get flights in the air but no staff to get it up there. Travellers are finally starting to book flights once again, and the aviation industry cannot afford to constantly skill new staff or continue to cancel flights due to COVID cases among staff. The industry must shift its focus to prevent this from continuing to occur; by training more efficiently, the airport staff will have a fail-safe system to not stop its planes from taking to the sky.
One sector in the industry that has been hit hard by the pandemic are the ground handlers.
Ground handlers play a crucial role in airport operations; they are tasked with reducing aircraft turnaround times, whilst staying within the industry regulations and safety requirements. It is a workforce that requires a wealth of knowledge, skill, and hours of on-the-job training. The time and money spent on training an individual is crucial to the efficiency of an employee’s skills. However, the day that an employee leaves or retires out of their position their knowledge and skills are lost, and unless this knowledge has been passed on promptly, businesses will see losses.
A ground handler that works on de-icing a plane, must be trained not only on how to operate the highly skilled machinery, but also have the knowledge on how each type of aircraft gets de-iced. To make matters more complicated, ground handling companies must abide by each airline's deicing regulations, meaning that ground handlers need to train enough staff so that they can deice in all types of conditions.
During the pandemic, when deicing personnel is absent due to COVID, it means that the company needs to find a replacement employee that has the same skill set and knowledge as the one that is on leave. Not all deicers are trained in all types of aircraft or machinery, therefore another factor that adds to flight delays or cancellations.
“With an objective to deter the threats of massive disruptions in operations caused by ground handlers, several airport authorities are seeking software-based ground handling managers, which manage database centrally, enabling users to access the system through easy-to-use web pages. The benefit of using software-based solutions for ground handling operations has attracted several airport authorities”[i]
Ground handlers that have included software-based managers to their deicing handling crew have seen cost-effecting savings.
A product such as deicing manager will measure everything from fluid usage to staff allocation needs. With this easily and organized information available to the company, planning to make future changes can be made faster and easier.
In today’s world data is key and having the right information data allows for flight operations and ground operations to work efficiently to have minimal disruption to “day of” operations. Airlines and Ground Handlers that use Deicing Manager have historical data to look back on and help plan for future needs and best work through irregular operations. Deicing Manager acts as a central repository for all information related to deicing and winter operations with customers gathering multiple data sources into Deicing Manager to have the right tools in place to make educated decisions. Data such as historical usage, weather, training information, flight information, and more give management and operators the key to having the most success in safely deicing aircraft and ensuring that winter weather will have the least impact as possible on departures. When companies also apply a software like Captivo, an LMS software into their operations, the benefits are even greater. At the upcoming GHI conference on March 28th, the Captivo and Deicing Manager software will be discussed.
The pandemic has made us rethink our tried and tested policies which have gotten us through many irregular operations in the past, however today a new playbook must be written and as Airlines and Ground Handlers recover and work towards reaching pre-covid flight and passenger volumes it has become more important than ever to focus on the data that we have and how it’ll best help us work towards a more efficient future.
[i] Joshi, Sameer, News Mantraa, Ground Handling Software Market to Surge with 5.3% of CAGR by 2027: COVID-19 Impact and Global Analysis (newsmantraa.us), January 10, 2022