Brexit has not contributed to the labour shortages responsible for the ongoing travel disruption, the UK Government said.
Aviation minister Robert Courts – who appeared today in front of the BEIS committee – said the lack of workforce was a global issue, affecting not only the UK but also the US and continental Europe.
“There have been similar problems in Dublin, in France and in the US,” Courts told the committee.
According to Courts, travel disruption was caused by the sector being forced to reopen after almost two years of being shut down.
“If there were aviation workers spare on the continent of Europe, you’d expect them to be [working] at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and solve the [hub’s disruption] issues but that isn’t happening.”
The minister’s remarks were echoed by the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) chief executive Richard Moriarty, who argued that, while the situation was unacceptable, the UK was not the only one facing such challenges.
“If we look at comparable countries, their cancellation rates over the same period were equally higher,” he said. “France was at three per cent, while the Netherlands was at 11 per cent.”
The comments came after Daniel Brooks, founder of HR company VHR, argued that a significant percentage of aviation workers were EU national who left during the pandemic and now cannot get back to the UK because of post-Brexit employment rules.
“They can’t come back very easily now, [Brexit] is making it very difficult for them,” he told during the parliamentary hearing.
Aviation industry stakeholders blamed labour shortages for causing the ongoing travel chaos, which has left stranded thousands of people during the half-term as well as Bank Holiday weekend.