“Passenger numbers are coming back in a big way."

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Last week, we told you unemployment rates are causing a major disruption across Tampa Bay. Now, airports are scrambling to find workers to keep business running there too.

“We’re trying to hire about 650 new positions,” said Danny Valentine, a Spokesperson for Tampa International Airport.

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A lack of workers has strained airport flow across the country as travelers return. After more than a year of COVID-19 lockdowns, airport travelers are being met with fewer food options, longer lines and airline delays.

“We have some restaurants that are unable to reopen because we just don’t have the manpower, even though there might be an interest from customers. We have restaurants that have shorter hours. For the restaurants that are open, we’re seeing reduced menus, potentially longer lines,” said Valentine. “Slightly longer wait times for luggage or maybe it takes a little longer to get the plane pushed out, things of that nature.”

In March 2020, Congress approved a $54 billion payroll assistance package to help keep airline workers employed amid the pandemic. But it wouldn’t be enough.

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Airports like Tampa International are scrambling to fill hundreds of positions to keep airport business afloat. So, they’re hiring for positions across the board.

“Passenger numbers are coming back in a big way. So we are ramping up in many ways getting closer and closer to some of our pre-pandemic passenger levels,” Valentine explains. “[We’re hiring for] positions with our shops and restaurants, baristas, bartenders, we’re hiring maintenance positions with Tampa International itself, ground logistics and ground handling.”

In an effort to reduce wait times for customers, Tampa International Airport will hire more than 600 workers this year by bolstering employment there.

“As far as I know, we haven’t seen any cancellations or anything like that due to labor shortage, in fact, we’re seeing more flights come back to Tampa International Airport, so we’re adding new service and we just want to be able to keep up with that demand.”

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On August 25th, airport staff is holding their biggest hiring day to date in search of those new employees. Stick with cw44 news for updates.