Aviation experts expect that in the next twenty years’ time around half of all flights will be directed to and from the Asian-Pacific region. Naturally, local carriers will have to treble their aircraft fleet thus raising the demand for pilots to 183 thousand. According to the data provided by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), currently the existing training institutions prepare only 3200 pilots out of the required 9150 which constitutes merely 35% of the entire yearly demand. However, the biggest problem that the region and its carriers are faced with at the moment is a shortage of highly qualified pilots. According to the Chinese business media, it may take up to 12 years to train one and airlines are reluctant to wait until local training institutions will at least be partly able to satisfy the demand. As a result, they tend to look for more experienced pilots abroad.
In the next twenty years 40% of the Asian-Pacific region’s pilot demand will come from China. According to the country’s Administration of Civil Aviation, in the beginning of 2011 Chinese airlines held at least 1300 foreign pilots on their payrolls amounting to a third of the entire country’s yearly pilot demand. For instance, Spring Airlines already employs 30 foreign pilots and Hainan Airlines – 46. Air China Cargo maintains 59 highly qualified foreign pilots who account for a half of the company’s captains and a quarter of all its working pilots.
“In order to meet the continuously growing demand for highly qualified pilots airlines increasingly opt for hiring specialists from abroad. The decision is based not only on the limited infrastructure but also on the rapidly growing regional GDP, expanding fleet and swiftly developing market of modern High-tech aircraft. It is only natural that airlines will continue to prefer highly qualified specialists and not only pilots but also instructors and other aviation personnel”, commented the CEO if AviationCV.com Skaiste Knyzaite.
Due to the shortage of qualified pilots airlines are forced to compete among themselves by offering foreign specialists better working conditions and higher salaries. Although many pilots are often reluctant to leave their own country and make long-term commitment, airlines tempt them with considerably higher financial offers (for instance, a local Chinese pilot earns USD 93-110 thousand whilst a foreign captain may earn from USD 140 to 170 thousand per year) and other perks, such as loyalty premiums that, depending on the number of years spent with the company, may range from USD 8000 to 30000 as well as improved living arrangements, extra days off, etc.
As an alternative to hiring foreign specialists the Asian market could opt for satisfying the existing demand by leasing pilots. AviationCV.com believes that pilot lease implemented on the principle of rotation would guarantee the region the required supply and demand. Airlines would be free to employ the best pilots and pilots themselves would be capable of changing employers and working locations more easily. This way the interests of both pilots and airlines would be satisfied under mutually favourable conditions.