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Travel with easyJet, where service includes job recruitment

THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

For an inflight announcement, it's unusual. As a recruiting tool, it is probably unprecedented: "Welcome aboard this easyJet flight. Please listen carefully while our cabin crew point out the safety features on this plane. And, er ... does anybody want a job?"

EasyJet is so desperate to take on more cabin staff that it is attempting to recruit its passengers. In a move that has left some holidaymakers bemused, Britain's largest budget airline is inviting passengers who are "up for the challenge" to apply to work as flight attendants.

With the airline's crucial summer season now under way, easyJet has added a "come and work for us" plea to the address that greets passengers boarding its planes. But the company has denied suggestions that the move is a response to chronic staff shortages, and that these have resulted in the cancelation of a number of flights over the past few days.

As well as highlighting the emergency exits and demonstrating the lifebelts, flight attendants have been ordered to tell passengers that "due to rapid expansion in our network, we are currently recruiting for Luton/Gatwick/Bristol-based crew. If you are up for the challenge or know someone who is, then please visit easyJet.com to complete an online application. The crew on board today would also be happy to answer any questions."

`A JOKE'

One passenger, whose flight from Nice to London Gatwick last week was canceled, and who was put on to a later flight to another UK airport, said: "Everyone thought it was a joke."

The man's flight had been due to depart at 9.30am, but he and other passengers did not end up taking to the air until the early evening.

"When we got on board our flight, the captain said the problem was due to cabin staff shortages," he said.

It was then that one of the attendants launched into the recruitment spiel, he said.

A spokeswoman for easyJet said: "It is just a new way of recruiting staff. We are a low-cost airline -- it saves money on advertising."

It also gave passengers the opportunity to "go up and ask the crew what it is like."

The no-frills airline employs 2,200 cabin crew across Europe. Its Web site states that it wants "real people with real personalities to make a real difference."

It adds: "That's not to say that getting a job as easyJet cabin crew is easy. It isn't -- we have very high standards and you'll need to prove to us that you are capable of taking responsibility for the safety and welfare of an aircraft and up to 156 passengers on up to six flights a day."

Applicants must be 18 or over, physically fit, have some face-to-face customer service experience and be able to swim at least 25m. The Web site does not disclose pay levels.

On one day last week, easyJet canceled 12 flights and blamed the disruption on a combination of "operational and technical problems" at three British airports, while denying that it was caused by industrial action or staffing problems.

EasyJet is seen in the industry as a stepping stone for young people who want to build a career in airlines, according to the UK's transport and general workers' union.

Brendan Gold, the union's national secretary for civil air transport, said: "Young cabin crew will use easyJet and other operators of that type to learn the job.

"The turnover in easyJet is about 18 percent to 20 percent annually. People use it to develop their career and then move on to Virgin Atlantic or British Airways, where it's more comfortable, more to their way of thinking in terms of quality of life."

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