Airport restaurants are desperate for staff. Some are offering $1,000 sign-on bonuses, and one CEO called for NFL-style anti-tampering rules to stop businesses poaching each other’s workers.

Cooks in a restaurant kitchen
  • Some airport restaurants are struggling to find enough workers and have hiked wages, CNBC reported.
  • One company is also giving $750 sign-on bonuses to new hires – and $1,000 to new cooks.
  • One restaurant CEO said he wanted airports to introduce NFL-style rules against poaching each other’s staff.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Some airport restaurants struggling to find staff have bumped up their wages and paid signing bonuses of up to $1,000 to tempt new workers, CNBC reported.

As travelers return to airports, restaurants are getting busier, and are often competing for the same pool of workers. Competition is so fierce at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) that one restaurant executive wants new rules against restaurants poaching each other’s staff, per CNBC.

Gilbert Aranza, CEO of Star Concessions, which runs restaurants and retail stores at DFW, told CNBC that the company couldn’t hire enough workers to run several new stores across four new DFW gates. He said he wanted airports to introduce anti-tampering rules for businesses, similar to in the National Football League (NFL), where clubs cannot approach players already under contract with rival teams.

Mollie Standridge, Star’s vice president, also told CNBC that the company had raised wages for non-tipped staff, from between $12 and $14 per hour to between $14 to $17 per hour, and had offered employees $400 referral bonuses for new hires.

Ken Buchanan, DFW’s executive vice president of revenue management and customer experience, warned resident businesses against poaching workers in a May 27 letter, viewed by CNBC.

“As you know, we are experiencing one of the greatest hiring challenges in the history of DFW Airport,” Buchanan said in the letter.

“As we prepare for a busy summer, please continue to practice DFW Airport’s high standards of hiring operations and refrain from soliciting employees from other DFW operations.”

Rick Blatstein, CEO of OTG Management, which owns eateries across ten airports nationally, told CNBC that it had offered $750 sign-on bonuses to new hires – and $1,000 to new cooks.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced June 22 that it would pay $8 billion in grants to commercial airports to help keep at least 90% of pre-pandemic workers employed, including $800 million in rent relief for concessions businesses.

Air travel has rebounded in recent months: Airports processed 2.1 million air passengers on June 20, up from almost 600,000 for the same day in 2020, and the highest number since March 7 last year, according to data from the Transportation Security Administration.

DFW, Star, and OTG did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.