Ground Handling

Japan: Labour shortages prompt ground handling recruitment drive

Japan: Labour shortages prompt ground handling recruitment drive
Japan's ground handling workforce has recovered slightly since the pandemic, but numbers are still below 2019 levels (Image credit: @Vitaliy/Adobe Stock)

Post-Covid labour shortages have prompted the Japanese aviation industry to step up recruitment efforts for ground handling workers.

The Japan Times reports the industry’s recruitment initiative aims to ramp up interest in working in the ground handling sector.

As of last September, the number of employees at 61 major ground handling companies in Japan dropped by 5 per cent for ramp handling and 14 per cent for passenger handling compared to March 2019.

However workforce numbers have slightly recovered this year. As of April, the number of ramp handling employees increased by 1 per cent, meanwhile the gap closed somewhat for passenger handling workers to 9 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.

The Japanese government has set targets to establish the country as being tourism-orientated. It wants to double the number of visitors to Japan by 60 million by 2030 compared to 2019 levels.

Airports will therefore need to ensure they are adequately staffed to meet the demand for more tourism in Japan.

But an industrial official said “it will be challenging to meet the target if shortages of ground handling staff remain unresolved”, according to The Japan Times.

In February, then-president of ANA Airport Services, Akiko Oyamada, said during an event to commemorate the launch of a serialised comic featuring women in airport ground handling roles that “I would be delighted if people develop an interest in the field of ground handling and join us in our work at airports”.

Aviation has faced global labour shortages since the coronavirus pandemic. In March, Airside’s sibling publication Airline Routes & Ground Services reported that Australia continues to struggle with a smaller industry workforce.

It is estimated 25,000 people left the commercial aviation sector in Australia after airlines made staffing cuts during the pandemic.