Long lines at Six Flags? Blame immigration limits, says its CEO

April 28, 2021, 8:58 PM UTC

Strong pent-up demand and increased vaccination rates are driving customers back to Six Flags theme parks, but visitors are seeing long lines because of issues with hiring, said CEO Michael Spanos.

“We have encountered difficulty fully staffing our parks upon reopening, with the shortage of labor availability due to many factors, including school COVID schedules, immigration restrictions limiting the number of international temporary worker visas, and extended unemployment benefits keeping people at home,” said Chief Executive Michael Spanos on a post-earnings call with analysts, according to MarketWatch.

Sandeep Reddy, Six Flags Entertainment Corporation’s chief financial officer, said the company is trying to bring in more seasonal workers through job fairs and advertising.

The approaching summer break will also boost the company’s employment efforts, said Reddy.

“[A]s schools close for the summer, a lot of our employees — at some point tend to be school kids who are looking towards the summer and that will be a big unlock in terms of labor supply,” Reddy said in the post-earnings call, according to MarketWatch. “And I think that’s why we expect that come Memorial Day weekend, we should be in pretty good shape.”

President Joe Biden late last month let expire a ban on temporary worker visas imposed by former President Donald Trump. Programs such as the J-1 visa for students and the H-2B visa for nonagricultural laborers, which were affected by the ban, brought workers from other countries to fill jobs in the U.S. temporarily.

With American embassies still closed or operating at lower capacities around the world due to COVID-19, many workers have struggled to apply for the visas in time for the summer work season.

Attendance at Six Flags was 1.3 million in its last quarter, which was less than the 1.6 million who visited last year and the 2.2 million visitors pre-pandemic. Attendance numbers still exceeded the FactSet consensus of 600,000, according to MarketWatch.

Our mission to make business better is fueled by readers like you. To enjoy unlimited access to our journalism, subscribe today.