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Monday, September 6, 2010

Pilots Sought to Fill Cockpits in Asia as Rising Travel Creates Shortage

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., Qantas Airways Ltd. and Emirates Airline
are awaiting deliveries of about 400 planes to capitalize on Asia’s
rising prosperity. Finding pilots is the next job.

Boeing Co. expects the region’s carriers to be the biggest buyers of
twin-aisle planes as travel grows in China and India, home to a
combined 1.1 billion middle-class people. Asia-Pacific airlines will
buy about 8,000 planes worth $1.2 trillion over the next 20 years,
Airbus SAS said.

Airlines worldwide need an average of 49,900 pilots a year from 2010
to 2030 as fleets expand, yet current training capacity is only
47,025, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization in
Montreal. That is sparking bidding wars as Emirates offers tax-free
salaries and four-bedroom villas for captains, and AirAsia Bhd., the
region’s biggest budget airline, gives tuition-free training.

“It’s a major issue and will be a big challenge to the industry’s
growth,” said Binit Somaia, a Sydney-based analyst for the Centre for
Asia Pacific Aviation. “Even if you can find the pilots, you have to
pay top dollar for them because they are so scarce.”

China, India

China, the world’s fastest-growing major aviation market, likely will
account for a third of the region’s orders, Airbus, the world’s
biggest aircraft maker, said in February. Its economy will grow 10.5
percent this year, compared with world growth of 4.6 percent,
according to International Monetary Fund estimates.

India, with estimated growth of 9.4 percent this year, may overtake
China as the world’s fastest-growing major economy as early as 2013,
according to Morgan Stanley.

This year, the region’s carriers ordered 133 commercial jets with more
than 100 seats, or 23 percent of the global total, according to Ascend
Worldwide Ltd., a London-based aviation forecaster and data provider.

“There will be a shortage of pilots, and this is going to last for a
while because it takes time to produce a good pilot,” said Elmer Pena,
president of the Airline Pilots Association of the Philippines.

Philippine Airlines Inc. canceled flights in July and August and
rebooked passengers after losing 27 pilots to higher paying jobs
abroad.

Fleet Doubles

The demand in Asia contrasts with the 4,500 U.S. airline pilots on
furlough, according to figures compiled by Kit Darby, a retired United
Airlines pilot now running an Atlanta-based consulting firm.

That situation shouldn’t last long. The global fleet of cargo and
large passenger planes will double to nearly 32,000 by 2028 from
15,750 last year, according to Airbus.

The major U.S. airlines are expected to hire more than 40,000 pilots
in the next 12 years, said Louis Smith, president of FltOps.com, which
provides career counseling services and sponsors job fairs.

World passenger traffic is expected to increase an average of 4.7
percent a year between 2009 and 2028, according to Airbus.

“I believe one can expect serious shortages among the foreign carriers
who can’t afford to pay what it takes to attract qualified pilots,”
Smith said.

$28 Billion Expansion

Emirates is the largest Arab airline with more than 200 planes on
order. It aims to recruit 250 pilots this year and double that number
in 2011, it said in a statement.

The company, which needs more than $28 billion through 2017 for
expansion, sought to recruit in Houston, Madrid and Singapore.

Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s biggest carrier, will recruit 1,000
people, including crew, Chief Operating Officer John Slosar said.

PT Garuda Indonesia placed a newspaper advertisement last month
seeking pilots “fluent in English and of good character.” Jetstar, the
budget arm of Qantas, plans to recruit 120 more pilots by next summer.

Singapore Airlines Ltd. and AirAsia, based near Kuala Lumpur, set up
their own tuition-free training academies. Singapore Air’s flying
college graduates about 150 cadet pilots a year, while AirAsia’s
facility trains as many as 500 a year.

Graduates must stay with the budget carrier for five years, AirAsia
Chief Executive Officer Tony Fernandes said.

Posted via email from Aviation Professionals dot Org

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