The rapidly intensifying pilot shortage around the globe has been an issue for airlines for many years now. AviationCV.com experts have gathered to review the history of that shortage in order to get a clearer picture of how aviation specialists chose to address the issue in the past and how they tend to approach it today. Hopefully it will provide some valuable insights into the most successful practices which can help carriers to handle the ever rising shortage in the future.
‘An interesting fact is that commercial aviation had emerged earlier than the first airplane was actually used for commercial purposes, with the German DELAG company to offer their customers commercial flights on Zeppelin airships. Airlines started operating commercial flights in the second decade of the 20th century, and the global fleet has been growing ever since,’ commented the CEO of AviationCV.com Skaiste Knyzaite.
The first airlines didn’t experience any problems with recruiting new staff, since the market was filled with post-World War I military pilots. However, in 1940-ies commercial carriers were suddenly faced with the first serious pilot shortage issues, particularly in the USA. While the European sky was occupied by military aircraft, the USA commercial aviation had no obstacles for development, since no actual military action was taking place in its territory. However, after the U.S. Government decided to take active actions against Germany, Japan and their allies, many of commercial pilots were pulled back to the U.S. Air Force, as the majority of those pilots were in the U.S. Army reserve. This, along with natural war losses, resulted in the reduced number of commercial pilots across the USA, as well as in other countries after the end of World War II. However, affected by the war, the growth rates of the European and the U.S. markets also significantly dropped thus levelling the demand with the supply.
‘While during the early stages commercial aviation was evolving and developing at its own pace, many of its processes were self-regulating and affected mostly by non-aviation related events in the world. However, the 60-ies became a true prosperity period for aviation, when many of the modernization processes took place and novelty mechanisms were introduced,’ commented Skaiste Knyzaite.
The roots of the commercial aviation as we know it today date back to the 1960-ies – the period of intensive development in the industry. A sudden growth of the commercial air transport demand, along with the introduction of new more effective aircraft types like Boeing 727, drove carriers to expand significantly’ aircraft fleets, particularly in the USA. This eventually triggered a major pilot demand in the commercial airlines’ market.
‘Severely lacking pilots for their expanded fleet capabilities, many carriers were handling the issue by taking the initiative of training young pilots themselves in order to fill in the gaps. Those were the times when almost every major airline had its own training centre. However, a lot has changed since then,’ said the CEO of AviationCV.com
The rocketing oil prices, which have been persistently rising since 1970-ies, forced airlines to reconsider and reshape their entire business strategy. Carriers were forced to shift from ‘All-in-one’ aviation corporations towards outsourcing many of the services, including pilot training.
Furthermore, oil prices, which have increased by over 700% since 1970-ies, made the air transport less affordable for many passengers thus naturally lowering the demand. However, from the beginning of the 21st century, the industry has been experiencing yet another period of growth. One of the main features of the latest development – no-thrill, low-cost air travel solutions. The essence of the low-cost business philosophy is that carriers focus on the passengers’ transportation itself rather than on simultaneous development of several aviation-related services, including pilot and technical training, aircraft maintenance, etc.
‘Today we are the eye witnesses of dozens and even hundreds of aircraft orders, placed by various low-cost carriers, which naturally trigger the rise of the demand for both cabin and technical staff with each newly delivered aircraft. The question is how the industry will handle the shortage this time as many of the market players have neither the capabilities nor the required experience. One of the solutions - aviation personnel leasing companies, which are also a phenomenon of the recent industry’s development. Such businesses appeared in the role of assisting agencies to airlines and MRO market players. They specialize in cabin crew and technical staff search, screening, recruitment and leasing. Some of such agencies, being not limited by any national or regional borders, maintain global cooperation with both training centres and potential employers thus ensuring smoother and more prompt training of skilful aviation specialists. They also maintain communication with current aviation professionals around the world thus helping the industry to level the HR demand and supply in different regions across the world,’ commented Skaiste Knyzate.