By Sami Quadri, Evening Standard
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has complained that British people do not want to be baggage handlers as staff shortages continue to grip the aviation sector.
British Airways and easyJet have axed hundreds of flights in recent months due to ongoing shortages of staff but Mr O’Leary said the low-cost airline has been “completely unaffected” by the issues that have impacted rivals.
He said Ryanair avoided the same troubles as it could see the post-Covid “recovery coming” and brought staff back to work in anticipation.
Although Ryanair remains unaffected, he said the UK must find ways to open up the labour market after leaving the EU.
He told The Telegraph: “I’m not re-campaigning on Brexit, but the UK is going to have to find a way to open up the Labour market between the UK and Europe, to get people in here to do the jobs which frankly British people don’t want to do.
“They don’t want to pick fruit, they don’t want to do agricultural labour, they don’t want to do hospitality or security or baggage handling at airports.”
It comes as British Airways entered emergency talks with unions on Friday in a bid to avoid strike action that would see travel plans thrown into chaos for tens of thousands of holidaymakers this summer.
The Unite union said it was locked in discussions with the airline alongside GMB union leaders, who also backed industrial action.
About 700 ground staff and check-in agents at Heathrow airport voted to walk out during the peak summer holiday period unless British Airways reverses a 10 per cent wage cut made during the pandemic.
The GMB said it had initially planned to meet union members on Monday with dates for the industrial action to be announced next week.
But a spokesperson said the timetable “will have shifted” now that the two sides are locked in talks.
They warned “thousands” of other British Airways workers could be poised to launch strike action, including ground staff at Gatwick, call centre staff in Newcastle, and engineers in Scotland.