Demand for qualified pilots surges in Asia

World Today

More than one billion passengers flew on Asian airlines last year, a number that’s doubling every 12 years. The fastest growing markets such as Indonesia and China are seeing double digit growth.The deadly crashes in just the past couple of months of planes operated by Indonesia Air Asia and a Taiwan’s TransAir have shone a spotlight on air safety in a region that is seeing the most rapid growth of air travel anywhere in the world. CCTV’s Rian Maelzer reported this story from Kuala Lumpur. 

Demand for qualified pilots surges in Asia

Demand for qualified pilots surges in Asia

More than one billion passengers flew on Asian airlines last year, a number that’s doubling every 12 years. The fastest growing markets such as Indonesia and China are seeing double digit growth.The deadly crashes in just the past couple of months of planes operated by Indonesia Air Asia and a Taiwan’s TransAir have shone a spotlight on air safety in a region that is seeing the most rapid growth of air travel anywhere in the world. CCTV’s Rian Maelzer reported this story from Kuala Lumpur.

More than one billion passengers flew on Asian airlines last year, a number that’s doubling every 12 years. The fastest growing markets such as Indonesia and China are seeing double digit growth.

Boeing estimates that the Asia Pacific region will need more than 200,000 additional pilots over the next two decades, 40 per cent of the world’s total.

The rapid growth of aviation in Asia has increased competition for qualified pilots.

“Pilot deficit, or not enough pilots do surface up from time to time. It’s cyclical. There are times when there’s more than enough, and there are times where there are shortages. But by and large the region has been managing it fairly well,” said Aviation Analyst Mohshin Aziz.

One key way Asian airlines have been meeting demand is by poaching pilots from other airlines, particularly in more mature markets like the US.

“That’s a sore point because some airlines start up and the last thing on their minds is training pilots, they want to get flying as soon as possible so they hire pilots from the market. Training pilots is an expensive business so airlines that have trained their own pilots do feel the loss when they lose experienced staff,” said Andrew Herdman, Assn. of Asia Pacific Airlines.

The rapid growth of airlines can also mean that locally trained pilots often rise up the ranks more quickly.

“The time it takes to move from first officer in the right seat to the captain’s seat varies a lot depending on how rapidly the industry is growing. And we do need to look at the overall experience levels in the community. That’s one of the reasons why the movement of the pilots from one region to another and one country to another is a positive feature because it does mean that experienced pilots are moving where they are needed,” said Herdman.

But Herdman says Asia can’t continue to count on drawing talent from elsewhere. Airlines and the industry as a whole need to ramp up pilot training to meet the ever-growing demand for air travel in this region.