Airline and Airport Jobs in JeopardyBy Cas Biekmann | Thu, 03/26/2020 - 16:59
The first stop in any trip, either for business or leisure, is often the airport. Staff at airports work their hardest to deal with large numbers of travelers. Recently, these flows have halted due to widespread precautions and travel bans. What does this mean for staff and what will be the impact in the long run?
Passenger traffic in Mexico is significant. Mexico’s government reported that in 2019, 50.3 million passengers flocked Mexico City’s airport alone. Cancun’s airport welcomed approximately 25 million passengers and Guadalajara received close to 15 million passengers. Figures from the government show that Mexico City’s international airport provides employment for at least 50,000 people.
Airport workers worldwide are facing difficult times. Australia’s Quantas faced criticism for laying off 20,000 workers without pay. German airline Lufthansa admitted struggling severely to keep staff on board, reported the Financial Times. Meanwhile, further friction arises between airports, airlines and employees as the latter worry of not being protected against the virus, reported The Guardian in Canada and El Universal in Mexico.
Deputy Minister of Health Hugo López-Gatell said yesterday that Mexico’s airports would remain open for flights both national and international, adding that Mexican citizens living abroad should stay indoors unless they have an emergency. In the US, unions have asked the government to help protect 750,000 jobs connected to air travel.
There is concern that similar measures will need to be taken in Mexico, as the country’s largest airlines have cancelled most of their flights as well. Mexico News Daily reported that Aeroméxico’s pilots already offered to take on a 50 percent pay cut, hoping to help the airline financially. These are heartwarming displays in desperate times and should not be taken for granted. But to save this essential part of the travel industry, stronger measures might be needed. Airlines might need a bailout but President López Obrador has stated that he does not seek to bailout companies and would rather focus on Mexico’s citizens. Nonetheless, with airports still open and government support not completely off the table, Mexico’s flight-based industry stands a fighting chance to keep above water during this crisis.