: Six Flags saying hiring isn’t so easy, because of immigration limitations, high unemployment benefits and school schedules


Six Flags Entertainment Corp. said Wednesday that while its customers are showing signs of strong pent-up demand for its theme parks, and money to spend, it is having a hard time hiring enough people to fully service those customers. At least for another months or so.

“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, according to a FactSet transcript of the post-earnings conference call with analysts.

That is causing some “frustration” with customers, as less staff means more time to meet safety protocols of cleaning roller coasters between rides, and longer lines at the food and beverage locations.

The stock

dropped 2.4% in midday trading, but pared an earlier loss of as much as 10.3% to an intraday low of $44.00.

Chief Financial Officer Sandeep Reddy said the company is currently making an “immediate push” to bring in more seasonal workers through job fairs and advertising.

In February, Six Flags had said it was hiring “thousands” of employees as it prepared to open all of its parks for the 2021 season. And earlier this month, the company said it was hosting a “National Hiring Week” from April 23 to May 2, at all of its U.S. locations.

CEO Spanos said he expects the labor challenges “to start to abate” as the core operating season starts,

“[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,” CFO Reddy said. “And I think that’s why we expect that come Memorial Day weekend, we should be in pretty good shape.”

Earlier Wednesday, Six Flags reported a narrower-than-expected first-quarter loss, as attendance was more than double what Wall Street projected.

The net loss for the quarter to April 4 widened to $95.8 million, or $1.12 a share, from $84.5 million, or $1.00 a share, in the year-ago period. That beat consensus analyst expectations for a per-share loss of $1.31, according to FactSet.

Revenue fell 20% from a year ago, and 36% from the pre-pandemic 2019 period, to $82.0 million, but was well above the FactSet consensus of $47.2 million. Total guest spending per capita slipped 1% from a year ago, but rose 16% from two years ago, to $56.16, which was below expectations of $57.10.

Attendance was 1.3 million, compared with1.6 million last year and 2.2 million in the pre-pandemic period, but beat the FactSet consensus of 600,000.

The stock has run up 40.3% year to date, while the S&P 500 index

has gained 11.5%.

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