Airports Must Adapt To Address Talent Shortage


Staffing shortages led to long queues at Amsterdam Schiphol in summer 2022.

Credit: Sem van der Wal/ANP/AFP/Getty Images

AMSTERDAM—Airports must rethink their recruitment and employee engagement strategies if they are to attract and retain talent, delegates at the GAD World conference in Amsterdam have been told.

Speaking during a panel session on Nov. 2, Corporación América Airports CEO Martin Eurnekian said the pandemic has created a gap in knowledge through the loss of experienced staff and a leakage of skilled labor to other industries.

During the peak northern summer season, a staffing crisis at a number of airports in Europe and North America caused long delays at check-in and security, as well as lost baggage and flight cancellations.

“We have a huge talent problem,” Eurnekian said. “When airports closed, technology startups and established companies stole many people. Within our business, I would say about 150 people left to go and work in this world.”

Eurnekian explained that Corporación América Airports, which operates 53 airports in six countries around the world, has focused on social and environmental issues to help make candidates want to work in the industry.

“We need our employees to be happy, so we are not only focused on the customer experience, but also the employee experience,” he said. “This is starting to happen, and we are bringing back talent that left, as well as attracting new people.”

Xavier Hürstel, deputy executive officer at Groupe ADP, added that the Paris-based airport operator has also adapted its approach to recruitment and retention, launching a new platform designed to increase the candidate pool.

Earlier this year, airport trade body ACI World set up a “workforce challenges” taskforce to investigate short-, medium- and long-term staffing issues in the airport industry. Measures outlined by the taskforce include: prioritizing diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging; implementing career development strategies; and focusing on the candidate experience.

David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.