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Airlines facing pilot shortage issue: senior aviation exec
14/05/2012 - Airlines may find themselves unable to take advantage of the expected boom in air travel if the issue of pilot shortages is not addressed, a senior aviation executive says. Jordan Chong
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Boeing's chief customer officer for flight services Roei Ganzarski says the aviation sector must do more to attract new people to a career as a pilot, as it has lost some of the romance of earlier decades.
Should nothing change, the potential consequences range from higher ticket prices as airlines cut back services to lower safety standards.
"Economics teaches us that for any demand supply will be met because you can make money there," Ganzarski said in an interview.
"The question is and the concern is what type of supply. Will the quality diminish? Will the standards diminish?"
Europe and the US, where pilots have struggled to find work or been laid off as airlines either collapse or shrink, have proved a helpful pipeline of pilots for fast-growing airlines in South East Asia or the Middle East.
Jetstar group chief executive Bruce Buchanan said the low-cost carrier, which is a subsidiary of Qantas Airways, had a variety of recruitment options.
"We are working with our cadet program, we are working with our recruitment pipelines around the world," Buchanan said in an interview with reporters in October 2011.
"Given the problems in Europe and North America, I can tell you we are getting huge numbers of applications out of those sorts of places where people see the opportunities to work for a fast-growing dynamic business like Jetstar in Asia."
While Jetstar according to Buchanan had not experienced any problems with pilot numbers, other airlines have not been so lucky.
Ganzarski said there were some examples where airlines have been unable to recruit competent and qualified people to operate a full schedule.
"There are some airlines out there that have brand new airplanes sitting on the tarmac because they are unable to find people to fly them," Ganzarski said.
"That's not talking about growth, that is talking about just regular operations."
Boeing's 2011 pilot and technician outlook estimated that by 2030 the global aviation sector would require 460,000 new commercial airline pilots.
To meet this target, the Boeing report estimated that 1,200 new pilot instructors would be need to enter the industry every year for the next 20 years.
"Right now, the speed of the acceleration of growth in aviation is outpacing the ability of the labour pool to catch up, both in recruiting the labour and training the labour," Ganzarski said.
Ganzarski said young people in modern society valued having a formal qualification, such as a degree, when undertaking formal study.
However, learning to become a pilot often yielded just a licence to fly and no other professional qualifications.
"You are talking about a program that in fact authorises a person to put the lives of 200 passengers in their hands and get no academic degree," Ganzarski said of pilot training courses.
"That is something we need to work on and change."
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