Empty-nesters are being urged to consider a second career as cabin crew, as airlines try to shrug off the notion that the career is only for young jet setters and ease recruitment woes.
Budget airline easyJet has kicked off a new recruitment drive for adults over the age of 45 "to show a career as cabin crew is open to anyone with the right skills, regardless of age".
It is particularly targeting people whose children have left the home or are looking for a new career later in life, following a survey that suggested more than three quarters of empty-nesters were on the hunt for a new challenge.
EasyJet said it had already seen a rise in the number of older people applying to become flight attendants in recent years, leading to a 27pc increase in the number of cabin crew over the age of 45 since 2018 and a 30pc increase in those over 60 in the past year.
However, it wants even more people over the age of 45 to apply for the roles, which have traditionally proved popular among younger people after they finish college or university given the travel involved with the work. Younger employees are also typically less likely to be put off by irregular working patterns.
EasyJet’s recruitment drive comes months after it was forced to cancel flights as a result of staff shortages across the sector. Around 10,000 easyJet flights were pulled over summer.
Many of the biggest airlines cut staff early in the pandemic but have now found it difficult to hire them back in the same numbers.
British Airways, for example, said in April 2020 that it planned to cut up to 12,000 jobs out of its workforce of around 42,000 staff, later revising this down to 10,000 jobs.
EasyJet had said early in 2020 that it was looking to cut up to 30pc of its workforce, equal to around 4,500 roles, but by January 2021 it had only cut around 1,400 UK jobs.
Airlines have been racing to hire more staff as demand for flights rebounds from Covid lows.
EasyJet said in January this year that it needed more pilots and in May the airline said it was taking the back row of seats out of some of its planes to allow them to fly with fewer cabin crew. It also offered all of its new and current staff a £1,000 bonus in a sign of competition between airlines for staff. The one-off payment following a similar move by rival British Airways.
The UK is the only major economy to have seen its workforce shrink post-pandemic. Official government figures show that more than a fifth of the working age population are either not in a role or not looking for a job, as a result of a rise in long-term sickness and more people opting to instead become students.
The number of long-term sick people neared 2.5m in the three months to August, which was almost 170,000 higher than the previous three months. The rise comes amid record backlogs in the NHS.
The workforce has also shrunk in part due to a wave of early retirement that came alongside the pandemic. Many employers are now trying to tempt some of these people back into the workforce.
Halfords said on Wednesday it was looking to recruit more retirees to fill 1,000 technician roles over the next year. It is also planning to target women and disadvantaged youths in its employment drive. The bike and car parts retailer said it was hiring now ahead of an expected surge in demand, as drivers fix older vehicles during the cost-of-living crunch rather than buy new ones.
Chief executive Graham Stapleton said: "We think there will be fewer new cars purchased, which will mean the car park ages even more quickly over the next 12 to 18 months. That will lead to more maintenance and more servicing.”