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Nearly 3,000 roles lying unfilled in the travel industry

You have probably seen the chaos in airports on the news recently. With reports of cancelled flights, limits on passenger numbers, lost baggage, and long queues, it’s been pretty difficult to avoid. But what’s behind the havoc? The pandemic caused the mass cancellation of flights and the closing of borders, pretty much putting the travel industry at a standstill, and ultimately causing huge numbers of employees to leave the industry.

As the travel sector struggles to get back on its feet, here at Adzuna we’ve taken a look at what the industry is looking like right now and its current staff shortages, delving into the job titles, airlines, and airports with the highest job vacancies. 


Top hiring airports

The news has heavily focused on airports such as Manchester, Heathrow, and Stansted suffering from the most disruption. However, recent reports have suggested that it is actually Birmingham that has seen the longest delays. This matches up with our data, which shows that Birmingham is experiencing the biggest staff shortages. The midlands airport currently has a huge 340 vacancies available, meaning that understaffing is the reason behind these delays.  

Taking the second spot for the top hiring airports is East Midlands airport. The second midlands airport to feature on our list has 315 open vacancies.  The third biggest airport in the UK, Gatwick, takes the next spot with 280 vacancies. Bristol (254 roles) and Edinburgh (231 roles) round off the top five hiring airports. 


Which airlines have the most vacancies?

It may not surprise you to hear that the airlines with the most disruption are those who are seeking the most staff. TUI is the biggest employer right now, seeking to fill 170 vacancies. Jet2 closely follows, with 169 open vacancies. Easyjet, which is among the most disrupted airlines, is next on the list, with 91 vacancies. Ryanair (84 vacancies) and British Airways (79 vacancies) also feature in the top five hiring airlines. 


Airport jobs seeing the largest year-on-year increase

Let’s examine the open roles in more detail. Below are some of the airport jobs that airlines are struggling to fill.


Aircraft cleaner

Average advertised salary: £23,318

Can’t get enough of ‘cleantok’? Ever thought of becoming a cleaner? Good news if you have! Vacancies for aircraft cleaners have increased by a huge 731% since July 2021. There are currently 108 roles available across the UK, with an average salary of £23,318. 

The role involves cleaning and restocking the interior of aircrafts, including the cabin, toilets, galleys, and overhead compartments. 

Are you the next Mrs. Hinch? Check out vacancies for aircraft cleaners 


Airport security officer

Average advertised salary: £26,715

Airport security officers have also seen a large year-on-year increase in available jobs. Vacancies for airport security officers increased by 200% year-on-year, so it is a good time to join the occupation. The average salary for airport security officers is £26,175. 

But what do airport security officers do? If you have ever seen an episode of ‘UK Border Force’, you will know exactly what this role entails. Airport security officers are responsible for monitoring CCTV, responding to alarms, searching luggage, and operating scanning equipment. As you can imagine, it is a pretty important job, so make sure you can focus for long periods of time and remain calm in stressful situations. 

Obsessed with ‘UK Border Force’? Check out available airport security jobs 


Flight attendant

Average advertised salary: £21,118

If you’ve ever dreamed of getting paid to travel the world, a job as a flight attendant may appeal. Otherwise known as cabin crew, it’s a great time to become a flight attendant with a year-on-year increase in positions of 192%. Many flight attendants left the profession due to the uncertainty during the pandemic, but as the industry returns to normal, it is a good time to join. Flight attendants can expect to earn £21,118 annually.

The role involves attending to the safety and comfort of passengers, which involves demonstrating emergency procedures, completing safety checks, and serving refreshments.

Can you imagine yourself travelling the world? Take a look at flight attendant vacancies


Aircraft cargo operations coordinator

Average advertised salary: £30,000

Aircraft cargo operation coordinator roles have increased year-on-year by 140%. The role is one of the highest paid on our list, with an average salary of £30,000.

Aircraft cargo operation coordinators are responsible for directing and coordinating air transport terminal cargo and ramp activity. So, if you are known for your organisational and practical skills, it is definitely a career pathway you could check out. 

If you’re an organised person, why not check out air cargo roles?


Airport baggage handler

Average advertised salary: £24,684

You may have been waiting for this one after all of the baggage chaos at Heathrow airport recently! Advertised airport baggage handler roles have increased by 138% since July 2021. This does not come as a surprise due to the severe understaffing currently being seen in the occupation. 

The role involves unloading and loading luggage and cargo into the aircraft and ensuring it gets onto the correct aircraft. The requirement to frequently lift heavy loads requires a good level of fitness. 

Interested in becoming a baggage handler? Check out vacancies here


Airport operations officer

Average advertised salary: £45,333

Airport operations officers have seen the next largest year-on-year increase, with 33% more job ads this year than last. Average salaries for the occupation are pretty high, sitting at £45,333. 

But what does this role involve? Airport operations officers are essentially responsible for making sure that aeroplanes can take off and land safely at airports. 


Wider travel companies with vacancies

Airports and airlines aren’t the only people hiring in the travel industry. There has also been a wider boom in jobs within travel. has so far hired 300 jobs in Manchester, with 30 advertised right now. Travelex has also had a recruitment drive, creating over 1,000 jobs in the UK so far following the pandemic. This recruitment boom is far from over. The UK travel and tourism sector is expected to create a huge 700,000 jobs within the next decade alone. 

With airports such as Heathrow having to put caps on passenger numbers, the disruption at UK airports is likely to continue – at least in the short term. Airlines, airports, and the wider travel industry are seeing a drive in recruitment following the pandemic as they look to rebuild their workforces. However, there is a question mark over whether their current efforts will be enough – particularly with advertised pay rates on offer across roles still hovering at the lower end Perhaps the answer will be for travel to take a leaf out of other sectors’ books. 

Other industries such as hospitality, which also suffered a talent exodus during the pandemic, are reconstructing their staff by trialling new methods to attract and retain workers. We’re seeing a real increase in signing bonuses and additional perks in order to fill talent shortages, as well as one-off perks like retention bonuses, to help convince workers to stay. 

💡 Read more: The companies offering the biggest signing bonuses


These perks are beginning to be seen in the travel industry too, with recruitment firm Staffing Match offering retention bonuses of £1,000 for airport operative roles among others. The industry as a whole may need to implement this further and learn from the lessons of other sectors to fill shortages going forward. In the meantime, airport chaos and travel cancellations look set to continue.


💡 Read more: The 10 most sought after jobs for 2022

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