British Airways has doubled a referral bonus for employees who convince their friends or family members to join the airline in a number of key roles. The carrier initially offered a £500 referral bonus but this has now been doubled to £1,000 to match the same sign-on bonus for new hires who pass the recruitment process.
The referral and sign-on bonuses are a sign of just how desperate British Airways is to hire as many new employees as possible as part of what the carrier says is one of its biggest recruitment campaigns ever held.
The bonuses are concentrated on three key roles where staff shortages are holding back BA’s recovery from the pandemic – cabin crew, ground operations agents and transport services agents.
In recent weeks, British Airways has been slammed for lengthy arrival delays and missing luggage which has been attributed to a severe shortage of ground staff. In some cases, aircraft have been forced to depart without any passenger luggage because there wasn’t any staff available to load bags.
The airline is also being forced to proactively cancel hundreds of flights every week because of cabin crew shortages. Last week, chief executive Sean Doyle told staff that even more flights would be cancelled through to the end of June while continuing disruption is likely to last until September at the earliest.
To relieve some pressure, BA has agreed to expensive ‘wet-lease’ deals with other airlines including Finnair, Iberia Express, Vueling and Titan. A wet-lease agreement is where the contracting airline hires both the aircraft and staff from another carrier to operate their own services.
British Airways has also mulled opening a temporary cabin crew base in Madrid where candidates with previous cabin crew experience could undertake a quick training course and then start flying BA planes.
Staff shortages are affecting a number of other airlines including easyJet and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. In the United States, both JetBlue and Southwest say they are trimming back their schedules due to a staffing squeeze.
A massive rebound in travel demand, along with staffing constraints has seen flight prices soar in recent weeks but analysts are concerned rising jet fuel prices could take a chunk out of potential profits.