28 Feb

Who Invited Staff Shortages?

Hint: No One

I’m about to roll up and make you regret the concept of an open bar.

If staff shortages were a person, they’d be “that guy” at a wedding. You know the one. The uninvited crasher shoving shrimp in his pockets, while attempting to get a dance floor going during the Best Man’s speech (there’s no beat in a heartfelt toast, sir). He is a master of chaos, and he wields his power without discretion, discrimination, or a shred of dignity.

So, who the heck keeps inviting this metaphorical party crasher to the aerial party? We’re sure by now you’ve worked in and witnessed the storm staff shortages can rain down on an operation. But why are they suddenly SO commonplace? Well, let’s talk this out.

Occam’s Razor is Kind of a Liar

We don’t even remember the experiment that yielded this phrase, but in case you don’t know, Occam’s Razor essentially states that the simplest answer is usually the right one. And here, well, he’s right…kinda. Naturally the most logical answer to this whole lack of crews is COVID. Specifically, the Omicron spike, which decided to make its appearance DURING the holidays (rude)- an already unruly time for airlines.

Sweeney Todd Vibes

But the answer is a tad more complicated than just the consequences of a plague blighting all over societal functionality. Like many other industries, COVID has only served to highlight just how fragile many infrastructures have been all along.

It’s hard to keep flights going during wintertime even without viral interference. The snowstorms roll in, the de-icing lines back up, and before you know it, you’ve got planes stuck on the ground and thousands trapped either onboard or in Concourse 2 for hours, with only the Applebee’s Express to remind them of the before times. They’re airport people now.

All this to say, the airline industry has always had its share of hurdles to jump; it’s just usually the hurdle is a 3-day Nor’easter, and not a 3 yearlong pandemic.

Reserve; A Tale of Madness Sans Redemption

Oh reserve. Great in theory. A nightmare in practice. We can see them now: your overworked scheduling department, attempting to patch up pairings with exhausted crews, all the while crossing all fingers and toes that the impending hurricane gets downgraded ASAP since you’re already 50 people short of what you actually need.

Keeping the operation up and running is hard enough on a good day, but it’s never actually been THIS hard. With more and more crewmembers calling out due to COVID, the system is already stretched thinner than usual. Add in holiday/winter chaos, you have the recipe for a delay disaster. Grease your dish with panicked, inefficient use of reserves, bake at 350 and you’ve got yourself a complete operational mess.

Reheats like a dream

Leave Scheduling Alone

Truly, schedulers are the unsung heroes of the airline world. Tasked the thankless job of calling crewmembers at all hours of the day and night, they are the last line of defense between planes taking off, and people sleeping on airport cots. Half the time they’re flying (get it) blind in terms of big picture oversight, and they’re forced to make poor choices in a panic. But these choices mean that the reserves they DO have aren’t utilized properly, and they run out of warm bodies to keep flights functioning that much faster. What do we mean by this?

Say hi to Polly. She’s an ORD based reserve flight attendant, and she’s “good” to the company for 2 days. There are 15 other flight attendants good for 3 days, but the idiot computer tells scheduling to assign Polly a 3-day trip. You don’t ask questions. you just call Polly. She rolls on up for her 2-day trip. On day 2, she’s deadheaded back to base, and a DFW reserve is deadheaded to LAX to pick up the rest of the trip.

So, scheduling just burned through 2 reserves for 1 trip. Those deadheads may not seem like much, just 1 seat each way, but they likely had to remove a paying PAX- do that over and over and just how much money are you burning just to get crews where they need to be?

In Conclusion, Covid Ruins the Party Again

Srry, we’ve been grounded since all available staff have the plague

So essentially, an already inadequate system has been pushed to the brink thanks to COVID. Sure, in years prior, staff shortages would crash the party sometimes, but COVID rolled into town and together it’s like a constant reenactment of Wedding Crashers out there. With masks and sanitizer wipes.

In our humble opinion, the fix lies in empowering your people, namely the Scheduling Department, and giving them proper tools to make better calls, and save themselves time and reserves to utilize in more efficient ways.

Just FYI, we happen to design software tools to save time and to help operations utilize their people in more efficient ways, so like, there’s that. It’s no big deal. Whatever.

Posted by | Posted at February 28, 2022 12:00 pm |
About us

Airlines depend on ELP Aviation because our software improves operational efficiencies, eases crew interactions, and increases profitability. We offer products that provide scalable and agile solutions based on the individual Carrier’s needs. We’re already thinking about how to solve the next problem.

Learn more
Locations

Headquarters:  103 W Spring Ave, Conway Springs, KS, USA

Branch Office: Narayana Enclave, Plot No 610, Road Number 33, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad-500033, Telangana, India.

Contact Us
Account
If you are an ELP CrewPortal App user please contact your Department for questions.

@ ELP Aviation, Inc. 2020

About us

Airlines depend on ELP Aviation because our software improves operational efficiencies, eases crew interactions, and increases profitability. We offer products that provide scalable and agile solutions based on the individual Carrier’s needs. We’re already thinking about how to solve the next problem.

Learn more
Locations

 

Headquarters:  103 W Spring Ave, Conway Springs, KS, USA

Branch Office: Narayana Enclave, Plot No 610, Road Number 33, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad-500033, Telangana, India.

Contact Us
+ 1 (316) 239-6080

info@elpaviation.com

 

Account
If you are an ELP CrewPortal App user please contact your Airline Department for questions.

@ ELP Aviation, Inc. 2020