Tourists return to Japan, but where are the workers?

TOKYO, Nov 06 (Nikkei) - Japanese airports and hotels are scrambling to handle the influx of tourists streaming across reopened borders, as staffs that withered to skeletal levels during the pandemic have not rebounded to match the rise in customers.

All Nippon Airways has lost 20% of its ground personnel at Tokyo's Haneda Airport due to staff departures and a hiring freeze. Now on the busiest days, the airline deploys about 100 cabin assistants to help on the ground by guiding passengers through the airport.

Taking the brunt are the ground crews responsible for baggage handling and similar tasks associated with plane departures and arrivals. Both Haneda and Narita International Airport near Tokyo have gotten staffing help from other airports. Vocational school graduates have received fast-track job offers and onboarding.

The Japan Federation of Aviation Industry Unions, consisting of unions representing airline workers, counted 45,310 people in its ranks in October, down 2,000 from last year.

The tourism industry sees a similar contraction. The hotel, restaurant and entertainment sectors combined for 4.06 million workers nationwide in August, data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications shows, a decrease of 10% from August 2019. ...continue reading

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