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Airlines scramble for pilots and planes

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Airlines scramble for pilots and planes

Old 23rd Jul 2004, 02:29
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Airlines scramble for pilots and planes

Fri "The Straits Times" (Singapore)

Airlines scramble for pilots and planes
By Karamjit Kaur

Shortage of both as more budget carriers enter the market; some companies have even resorted to poaching staff

BUDGET airlines around the region, rushing to take to the skies this year, could run into some turbulence in their search for aircraft and pilots.

Both are in short supply.

More than 10 low-cost carriers have already taken off or will do so in Asia this year and the aircraft of choice for many has been the Airbus 320.

They are hard to come by, said the region's leading aircraft leasing company, Singapore Aircraft Leasing Enterprise (Sale).

As a result, as one airline executive put it, 'budget carriers are going all around the world hunting for planes and when we find them, we worry that our competitors will be on to the same source too'.

The news is not any better when it comes to pilots.

The general rule is eight pilots per aircraft and where the airline's advertisements have failed to show results, carriers have resorted to poaching. Experienced crew from main line and rival budget carriers said they had even been wined and dined in discreet head-hunting sessions.

It is a sign of the times, said the managing director of the Sydney-based Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, Mr Peter Harbison.

'It is always an issue when we get bursts of very rapid growth, for supply to match demand and this applies to not just aircraft and pilots but also other resources like ground handling services.'

For planes, the problem could last a while, said a spokesman for Sale.

'In our core Airbus 320 market, we have reached the point where, industry-wide, there are no more new aircraft available this year and fewer than 15 due to come off lease from all lessors combined.'

He added: 'We will have only two new aircraft available for lease next year.'

The A320 family (A318, A319, A320 and A321) is the most popular Airbus model in the Asia Pacific, with 21 delivered in the first six months of this year, most of it going to airlines in China.

Both Valuair and Singapore Airlines-backed Tiger Airways, which starts flying next quarter, have opted for the single-aisle A320, which seats up to 180 passengers.

Valuair hopes to add two aircraft every year to its fleet while Tiger's plan is to have up to 12 planes by 2006.

Sources say Qantas' new start-up here, which also starts operating by year-end, has also picked the A320.

Other airlines that fly the same aircraft include SilkAir and India's Air Deccan.

Leasing a new single-aisle Airbus costs about $489,000 a month.

But with new planes in short supply, carriers might have to settle for older aircraft coming off lease, said Sale's spokesman. 'The supply and demand equation today has changed very significantly compared to a year ago.'

Tiger, however, contends that it has no problems getting its share, possibly because of its pedigree.

Chief executive Patrick Gan said: 'Who would you want to lease your aircraft to? The credentials of the lessee and who its shareholders are, are very important and they do not come any better than this (Tiger). I am getting calls from leasing companies.'

But as for finding pilots, he said there are fewer of them around relative to the number of new airlines coming up.

He made it clear, however, that Tiger did not poach.

According to its website, captains in Tiger are paid a flat salary of between $14,000 and $16,000.

Mr Gan would not say how many pilots the airline had hired so far but confirmed that 'a few' had been seconded from SIA temporarily.

Mr Jimmy Lau, executive director of Valuair, which has 16 pilots, said: 'We have enough who come to us willingly. We do not need to go around pinching from other airlines.'

One target for airlines looking to hire A320 pilots would be SilkAir.

It has 95 pilots and will hire more as it plans to increase its fleet from 10 planes now to 16 by 2008.

Even with the recently sealed deal that gives SilkAir pilots a higher salary and more rest days, some of them have left for budget carriers.

One who made the switch after eight years in SilkAir said: 'It is truly a different world, a more relaxed one.'

==========================================
Wirraway is offline  
Old 23rd Jul 2004, 03:21
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Wink Shortage of Pilots?

Yeeeah riiiiiiight !!
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Old 23rd Jul 2004, 03:45
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Yup,

Here we go again, another cycle has started same as mid eighties, let's hope we have learnt some lessons eh.
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Old 23rd Jul 2004, 04:54
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According to its website, captains in Tiger are paid a flat salary of between $14,000 and $16,000.
I AM SPEECHLESS!!!

No wonder they're having trouble finding crews!!!!!
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Old 23rd Jul 2004, 05:18
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S$ per month.

Go here for details
Tiger Airways

Last edited by Woomera; 24th Jul 2004 at 01:02.
gaunty is offline  
Old 23rd Jul 2004, 05:55
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Three Bars

Why are you speechless? Their pay is approximately 20% better and with a third of the tax that our good old Ozzie Jet* pays!

What a good deal the Impulse guys struck to fly around in the silver bird! Your representatives were done like a dogs dinner!
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Old 23rd Jul 2004, 07:03
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And Sin$ is worth about 30% less than the Oz$ while the cost of living in Singapore is somewhat greater than Sydney's in general.

A car however is prohibitively expensive and international schools are very expensive too. I paid about Sin$ 25K/yr to have my daughter in AIS (Australian International School) a few years ago. This would not have reduced in the intervening period. For starters I was paying that when the Sin$/Oz$ was at virtually parity!!!

Also Tiger is being set up along the same lines as Ryanair in terms of uniforms, crew meals, etc etc.

Interesting that Tiger are claiming pay for their Captains significantly in excess of what SQ pays it's expat 777 Captains

All is not as it seems in some parts of asia...particularly Fortress Singapura.

Pilot shortage?

If you're widebody/glass cockpit/Boeing/Airbus etc etc then yes we are entering a period where our services will need to be competed for on the international market. Recruiting is at full pace whereever you look. RBA,EK,SQ,KA,CX,QF,GFA,ET,QR,BA,VB,ANZ, JQ, Ryanair...and on and on, with the possible exception of some of the established US airlines other than SWA and other LCCs that are madly hiring and buying aircraft.

And none of the above are finding an abundance of experienced, quality jet pilots in the marketplace...demand is outstripping supply at the top end of the industry.

Given the future growth predicted by Airbus/Boeing/industry analists and the fact that less young people seem interested in aviation as a career...and the fact that the bottom end of the industry in places like Oz/NZ/PNG is gutted where will all the future pilots required come from?

The UK/EU pilot training pool is ham strung by crippling costs/rediculous theory exams and their own airlines can't find enough people prepared to pay huge money for a type rating. The pool of UK chaps/chapesses prepared to drop GBP100K to be treated like shite by MOL etc is not large enough.

And don't underestimate how many expat widebody pilots worldwide are Oz/Kiwi...it is a huge %!!! Particularly ME & Asia!!


And we, mostly, started in Oz/NZ/PNG GA...plus a few of those mil wankers

Make no mistake....airline managements plans for expansion are being limited by lack of qualified crew.

I firmly believe that, for those of us at the top end of the industry, the downturn in T&Cs of the last 10 yrs is set for a reversal...sooner or later it will filter down to the youngans...hold tough and keep the hours ticking over. Network and be your own worse critic when it comes to your flying.

It's all good news...but then I'm a eternal optomist!

Chuck
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Old 23rd Jul 2004, 09:54
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Bombshell,

I am speechless because I lifted the quote from the original post:
fourteen - sixteen thousand per year. I assume you were thinking 140000 - 160000 per year!

14000-16000 per year ($s) would be subsistence at best.
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Old 23rd Jul 2004, 10:43
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14k-16k/mth is the alleged offering.

Chuck
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Old 23rd Jul 2004, 23:11
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SIA recently "invited" some of the ex silk air pilots who had moved off the 320 to the 777, to "help" Tiger out since they had no joy in their recruittment drive. Total recruits as of a week ago 0

How many accepted that offer and on what terms I dont know
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Old 23rd Jul 2004, 23:20
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Three Bars

Sorry I was having a go in a round about way at the fact that the Singaporeans were actually offering more than the Ozzie low cost airline.
Yes the SG$16,000/ month translates into about AU$160,000/ year. FOs would get about AU100,000/ year. I'm not saying it is a great salary but a young FO with no ties would probably be better off in SIN, rather than working for a low cost airline here.
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Old 23rd Jul 2004, 23:42
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1 AUD = 1.2237 SGD
1 SGD = 0.8172 AUD

Does anyone have a link to price-parity (or burgernomics?)?
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Old 24th Jul 2004, 00:13
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For a cost of index living survey, have a look at the 2004 Cost of Living Survey

Singapore rates #46 (down from #32 in 2003) whilst Sydney has jumped to #20 (from #67 in 2003).

To plagiarise the comments from the website:
The index is based on cost of living expressed in US dollars. Therefore, if the dollar weakens against the local currency of a city, the city becomes more expensive and moves up the index, even if prices expressed in local currency remain the same or even go down
As en explanantion for the rapid rise, they give the following:

Cities in Australia and New Zealand have risen most in the rankings this year due to the significant appreciation of local currencies against the US dollar. Sydney is the most expensive city in the region, increasing from 67th place in 2003 to 20th position, with a score of 91.8. Other high-scoring cities in Australia include Melbourne in 67th position (77.5) and Brisbane in 87th place (72.7). Auckland is the costliest city in New Zealand, ranked 80 with a score of 74.2. Though they have increased in the rankings this year, these cities continue to rate among the highest for high quality of life. “Living costs in Australia and New Zealand have risen faster than anywhere else globally, mainly due to the strength of the currencies in these countries,” said Mrs Sepede.
Note that cost of living & qualityof lifestyle are 2 separate & distinct issues.

As for Quality of Lifestyle, have a look at the Mercer Worldwide Quality of Life Survey

Sydney scores 105.5 and comes in very close to the top, in 4th place. Singapore scores 101, and comes in as 35th.

More detailed explanations can be found on the page linked above.

Enjoy!
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