The pilot shortages plaguing the airline industry

Image copyright Stock Images Have you ever wondered why airline staff have been so busy in recent years? An interview with some pilots from US airline Virgin America illustrates just how tough a job…

The pilot shortages plaguing the airline industry

Image copyright Stock Images

Have you ever wondered why airline staff have been so busy in recent years?

An interview with some pilots from US airline Virgin America illustrates just how tough a job the airline pilots have.

In 2017, the company had a pilot shortage of nearly 40%, caused by a retirement crisis among older captains and pilots who opted to take flying “early”.

Back in 2006, for example, Virgin had more than 55,000 pilots. Today they are down to just 35,000.

And while there are plenty of pilot redundancies available, they are often not the reason for the vacancies.

Instead, pilots are less likely to retire because they want to carry on flying.

They feel the skills that are vital to stay safe are not being passed on to future generations of airline pilots.

This was also the case for flight attendants, who were faced with the prospect of job losses or big cuts.

But flight attendants are joining the debate about the future of aviation.

The Flight Attendants Union and the International Transport Workers’ Federation are urging the new Airbus A320neo aircraft to “reinvest in, and hire, an army of new pilots”.

The organisation is also lobbying airlines and governments to allocate more air traffic services to countries such as the Philippines.

That country’s flight services are often under-resourced compared to other countries and may not be sufficiently available to airlines if more demand is brought on by air travel, they argue.

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