Pilots are scarce in the wake of the pandemic
After being plunged into a crisis by the coronavirus, the aviation industry faces even more problems as the world emerges from the worst of the pandemic to discover that there is now likely to be a pilot shortage after thousands of people have been made redundant or have decided to retire.
Government policies such as mandatory vaccinations for trainee pilots and travel restrictions have also kept a new batch of potential aviators away, according to Bhanu Choudhrie, CEO of Alpha Aviation Group, which operates flight schools in the United Arab Emirates and the largest in Southeast Asia. training center, the Philippines. They have trained more than 2,500 pilots for carriers including Philippine Airlines, AirAsia Group, Cebu Pacific and Air Arabia.
Modern longer-range narrow-body planes like the Airbus A321 XLR jets – due for delivery from 2023 – will require more pilots than previous models, compounding the shortage, Choudhrie said in an interview in London.
“The airlines are going to continue to buy, to modernize their fleets, and in doing so, they are going to need pilots,” he said. “The market is getting interesting again, and we are starting to see this upward trend, we are starting to see airlines coming to us and telling us – look at this is my delivery schedule, can you have some pilots ready for me in two years time? “
Many airlines are aggressively trying to rehire pilots, as well as cabin and ground crew, but it has not been a straightforward process and some positions are unfilled. Careers in the industry don’t seem as secure as they used to be.
According to Choudhrie, it takes 18 to 24 months to train a pilot, which means carriers should strive to prepare them well in advance of delivery of new planes, including narrow-body planes, like the A321 XLR, which can fly longer. Airlines typically order planes years in advance given the limited production capacity of aircraft manufacturers.
The crew ratio – or the number of pilots assigned to an aircraft – could reach 18 for the A321 XLR compared to 10 or 12 for older models in the same family, said Choudhrie, who also runs a capital company. UK based investment. C&C Alpha Group and was an early investor in Air Deccan, a pioneer of the low cost flight boom in India.
Boeing estimates that the world will need more than 600,000 new pilots over the next two decades, during which airlines will accept 43,600 new aircraft delivered. Demand for new aircraft will skyrocket in markets where carriers are looking to replace their old fleets, and in countries like India, the country of IndiGo, the largest customer of India’s best-selling narrow-body aircraft. Airbus.
That’s why Alpha Aviation is setting up a new flight training center in India, with an initial investment of $ 15 million, and plans to expand and invest up to $ 100 million, Choudhrie said. . He declined to elaborate before an official announcement.