Stansted Airport launches recruitment drive as it predicts return to pre-pandemic numbers by summer

  • Watch a report from ITV News Anglia's Russell Hookey

The tourism industry is back in business - with airport bosses predicting a return to pre-pandemic passenger numbers by the summer.

It follows two years of job losses after the arrival of Covid-19 saw flights instantly grounded and the industry paralysed by uncertainty as rules and guidance frequently changed.

At Stansted Airport in Essex, 380 people lost their jobs following the start of lockdown in March 2020.

But with travel restrictions easing this weekend and some schools on half term next week, bosses are expecting their busiest weekend of the year so far - with around 90,000 people due to pass through the doors.

Although still only half of pre-pandemic levels, the airport is confident business is on the up.

Stansted has launched a major recruitment drive with a face-to-face jobs fair looking to recruit around 300 security guards, ground handlers and retail staff.

"This is absolutely us on our road to recovering," said Liz Austin, HR director. "We are expecting to have passenger numbers at pre-pandemic numbers for the summer so this is absolutely about us being back, and being here, and being in business."

Among those recruiting at the fair was Ryanair which said it was running 16 training courses a month at the moment to get crew ready and "get people flying again".

Eleonora Ferguson lost her job at Gatwick Airport during the pandemic but is once again working for Titan Airways, based at Stansted.

"I'm very fortunate to return and do the job I do," she said. "To see that everyone is recruiting again at the moment, it's amazing."

Dan Johnson, of Swissport, said there was a clear "revitalisation" of the tourism industry happening - much to the relief of companies like his.

"Pre-pandemic, it was looking really, really good for us - we were set to have one of our best summers here at Stansted - but the pandemic unfortunately crushed that," he said.

There are further signs of growth in the wider aviation industry.

Luton Airport has just begun a consultation to expand its capacity to 32 million passengers a year.

And Norwich Airport is also recruiting for 54 new positions at check-in and security ahead of an expected bumper summer season.