This week American Airlines and US Airways have declared reaching an agreement with the United States Department of Justice and the attorneys general from six states as well as the District of Columbia regarding the merger of the two companies. The latest agreement places two companies just a few steps away from uniting into the world’s largest airlines. Along with the optimized route networks and cost structure, the synergy of the American Airlines and US Airways merger will boost the American pilot job market thus triggering the round of pilot repatriations from outside the continent.
Earlier this year American Airlines announced its plans to hire and train approx. 45-50 pilots per month starting this winter already. The overall demand for new cockpit members is estimated to reach 1500 pilots during the following five years. The intentions of the U.S. DoJ to block the merger would certainly force the carrier to reconsider its expansion.
“The merger is certainly a thrilling case monitored by the entire industry. The united company will double not only its performance, but its ambitions as well. Despite the concessions the carriers had to made in order to reach the agreement with the authorities, the potential of soon-to-be the largest airlines is still difficult to overestimate,” commented Skaiste Knyzaite .
As the global and national economic unrest is calming down, the U.S. air transport market is strengthening and regaining confidence. For instance, United Continental Holdings, the parent company of United Airlines, has revealed its intention to take back almost 600 pilots who were previously sent on furlough.
According to Skaiste Knyzaite, the American pilot job market will gain a second breath with the plans of its major carriers. However, with the shortage of experienced pilots still being an issue in many countries worldwide, the latest developments in North America are likely to trigger certain shifts in global pilot migration flows.
„We have already heard from several American pilots currently working for Asian carriers that they are seriously considering moving back to the USA right after the end of the contracts. With AA to announce a major pilot recruitment program, many expat pilots started asking themselves whether they should return home and work in a more familiar environment. But at the same time, it is a signal to foreign carriers, particularly in Asia, that they should double their efforts in searching for new pilots. Otherwise, the already existing HR-gap might blow up,“ shares her concerns S. Knyzaite.
Currently Chinese airlines alone employ almost 2,000 foreign pilots, many of whom come from North America. Originally, American pilots were moving to Asia due to much higher wages and faster promotion opportunities. However, the U.S. carriers, facing the upcoming shortage of workforce, are intending to raise the salary rates in order to win American pilots back from China and other emerging markets. Should Americans repatriate, Europe comes as the second largest source of qualified workforce for airlines in Asia, the Middle East and other spurring markets. Many European aviators might gladly move to the East, driven not only by twice larger salaries (which might grow even further should American pilots massively decide to leave their Asian employees), but by a job opportunity itself.
The European air traffic is still rather weak and volatile, with local carriers being forced to continue struggling for cost reductions. The continuing shifts in salary policies and job cuts do not make matters any easier. For instance, according to Vereinigung Cockpit, in Germany the unemployment rate within the field of qualified cockpit crew is twice as high as the national average.
“Of course, the situation in Europe is not that dramatic as some may imagine. The market is developing, but with a strong focus on low-cost carriers which are pressing the average European pilot salary rates down. This is a serious issue as they are already two-to-three times lower than the ones in other regions across the world. With this situation in mind, we believe that in the nearest future Asian carriers are likely to refocus their recruitment campaigns from the North America to Europe thus reshaping the existing pilot migration from transpacific to pan-Eurasian flows,” concluded the CEO of AviationCV.com