The U.S. air transportation sector added 6,800 jobs in July as the airline industry continues to staff up from Covid-19 pandemic lows.
The pace of hiring slowed from June when the sector, which includes airlines as well as others, added 11,000 new employees, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released Friday. Air transportation companies employed 567,900 people at the end of July, an 8 percent increase from July 2019, before the pandemic hit.
Airlines have struggled with staffing, from pilots on down to airport ground crews, as travel has rebounded dramatically in the U.S. While most carriers say they now have the staff they need, onboarding new employees has created its own challenges.
“The chief issue we’re working through is not hiring but a training and experience bubble,” Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said in July. At the time, the airline had “thousands in some phase of hiring and training process.”
Training bottlenecks aside, U.S. airlines are still struggling with hiring skilled staff — particularly pilots and maintenance technicians. The pilot shortage is primarily hitting smaller airlines, like Republic Airways and SkyWest Airlines, with few expecting the situation to completely ease for several years due to the long lead time training and certifying new cockpit crew members.