Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Travel Industry Rebound Is Threatened by Airline Hiring Troubles

  • Southwest CEO vows ‘reset’ after summer of scheduling woes
  • Major U.S. carriers seeking to hire almost 23,000 workers
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly

Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg

Missing workers are turning out to be as big a headache for airlines as missing luggage. U.S. carriers hoping to build out flight schedules face headwinds from unfilled jobs and, in the case of Southwest Airlines Co., a surprising spike in staffing no-shows.  

The industry is hiring thousands pilots and flight attendants more than a year after trimming jobs as travel collapsed with the coronavirus pandemic. Reservation agents also are high in demand. But the need -- and the challenge -- is greatest for entry-level jobs like baggage handlers, ticket counter and gate agents, cabin cleaners, aircraft fuelers and folks who restock galleys.