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Pilot shortage

Old 21st Nov 2016, 09:00
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Pilot shortage

This from an article that I read in the ME forum.

The critical shortage of pilots amidst growing demand across the entire aviation industry is the next major headache for some carriers, especially amongst those desperately looking to cut costs. Another report warns they should be doing the opposite.

“Due to the increasing demand for pilots and a growing lack of suitable candidates, airlines need to develop strategies to ensure they attract and retain, the right crew,” asserts global risk management company Marsh, which has suggested a number of vital alternative strategies for carriers. These include conducting regular pay reviews.

“Given that the cost of flight training is considered to be a deterrent for young talented [people], they are more likely to be attracted to airlines who offer generous packages covering these costs,” the company explains. “Having then borne the pilot training costs, the airline must seek to protect its investment by taking proactive care to retain its staff.”

The Marsh report cites improving work conditions as a significant factor that carriers should consider by “taking steps to ensure their corporate culture promotes a better work/life balance” for employees.
The Boeing projection has Asia/Pacific needing 248,000 new Airline pilots over the next 19 years. I have heard that the number of commercial pilots qualifying each year in Asia / Pacific is actually in decline, can anyone confirm this or point me to a reference source?
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Old 21st Nov 2016, 10:25
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You'll get in the LHS yet, framer!
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Old 21st Nov 2016, 10:54
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Pilot shortage
This can overcome by wearing high heels.

Both meanings apply.


Last edited by Checklist Charlie; 21st Nov 2016 at 11:17. Reason: spelling.
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Old 21st Nov 2016, 17:36
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Heh heh, watch out Bloggs, I might be sitting behind you soon!
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Old 21st Nov 2016, 18:58
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In demographics is destiny...

Demographics are very predictable but ultimately are a very long term bet. They drive most markets. Pilots are no exception.

Australia has an adversarial industrial relations model and perhaps the best example of it is Qantas. Ian Oldmeadow and the consultants loved JQ. It drove a wedge between staff, created leverage and ultimately would force down terms and conditions.This has been the lot of the Qantas pilot: The career they hoped for dissolved, they were left with a job

2004: JQ created. By 2016 a 787 command.
2004 a Qantas joiner, maybe could be a 737 FO.

Qantas has spent an enormous amount of energy deriding, talking down the company, the brand and the staff. It was relentless. Staff were locked out in 2011. Even those pilots not involved in wearing red ties.
Qantas staff listened to comulsory 'next step together' days where management told them how clever management were and how transformed Qantas was. Of course they neglected any mention of the price of oil and the accounting trick they pulled writing off their fleet. Those two items alone were nearly every dollar of their 'turnaround profit'

However what Oldmeadow failed to tell his masters is the demographics drives economies.In isolation his model was incredible, but aviation is a global business, pilots are hard to train (they take time and money) and in suceeding in slowing down career paths at Q, they caused pilots to begin the process of wondering where else can i go?

  • Aviation qualification are expensive
  • The medical criteria required to hold ATPL medical can mean a premature end to a career in an industry known for ups and downs
  • Not everyone has the aptitude
  • Declining birth rates and aging populations in the western world.
  • Aviation growth (as forecast above)
The reality in Australia is Qantas is an employer. The only advantage is living in Australia. The career is long gone. The rushed Qantas 787 deal a low water contract. (shame AIPA didn't read these sort of articles)

Aviation is a global business and Australian carriers are competing for pilots. Qantas et al will never admit it but it is the reality. Less people are learning to fly and those that are flying are aging.

A strategic thinking airline could easily position itself to take advantage of Australia's crop of pilots who are by world standards very good and experienced.

A well remunerated, commuting contract would strike at the heart of Qantas and other airlines' traditional recruiting grounds, leaving Qantas and JQ very exposed...

457 visas and other tricks will control supply to a degree, but ultimately as certain ME carriers are finding out, the market for pilots works two ways and it isn't necessarily in their favour at present.
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Old 21st Nov 2016, 19:33
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Well said Tuck Mach. Can't wait to see how the crews enjoy 17 hour sectors on the 787 with no crew toilet or seat either!!!
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Old 21st Nov 2016, 20:42
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Here's another recent article well worth a read.
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Old 21st Nov 2016, 21:37
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Certainly starting to see a substantial increase in job adds.

I note Corporate Air having to advertise for twin piston drivers. That's got to speak volumes about the industry when one of the better operators is looking for that demographic.
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Old 21st Nov 2016, 21:53
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Nice post Tuck Mach.

I believe the prospect of a mass exodus would be greater at Virgin than at QF.
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Old 21st Nov 2016, 21:58
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Great post Tuck Mach. The only thing I would add is I don't know anyone that would encourage their own children to follow after them into this industry.

There used to be many second generation pilots joining airlines. This indicated the depths of pain that airline managers have inflicted upon their pilots over the last 30 odd years.

They are reaping what they have sown, the "long-term" is now upon them.

The more detailed report which these articles appear to be based on: Overcoming the Pilot Shortage: Employee Benefits Can Prove to Be a Differentiator for Airlines Looking to Attract Talent
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Old 21st Nov 2016, 22:31
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Qantas will shortly go into shut down mode. The droves of desk dwellers retire for the summer holidays. The offices are quiet. HR gone home. IR taking a break. most of the building empty. At least they can turn the air conditioning off, like they want the pilots to do on the passengers.

The flights however keep humming along. The operational staff have borne the brunt of the assault of IR over many years, yet amazingly it continues on. It is testament to fondness people have for aviation. Sadly for Qantas instead of trying to 'value capture' that energy, they embarked on the adversarial IR model of fear and intimidation.Ironically for them as you alluded to Curtain Twitcher "Welcome to the long term, as you sow you will reap."

Pilots are a very important cog in the wheel, no flying no revenue. Very simple. Sadly that isn't taught at modern management college. If you listen to them it all rests on the less than broad shoulders..Pilots collectively have rolled over too many times. The industry is where it is for a myriad of reasons. The industry in Australia mirrors the country; a hollowed out, real estate ponzi. An amazing land inhabited by less than amazing people. Our management class reflective of our political class. (Don't start me on that!)

It is amusing to watch the 'leadership' ( a loose term if ever there were one) wake up. Their only hope is a declining business cycle, (that according to Scott Morrison doesn't exist anymore) to begin the next round of downward bargaining...A declining business cycle is falling revenue (alan blames competition), higher cost (alan blames labour cost or oil), he can't (un) transform the business and declare another terminal decline.

Perhaps we will get to the point where respect is forced upon them, driven by economic reality. Sadly though with this myopic bunch of self important 'leaders' nothing will change and that includes the echelons of Flight operations. The 'transformation' game needed a new chairman and CEO so the 'witch is dead' routine would work out. They are too self centred. Alan's reputation not what skytrax or Geoffrey Thomas (is that pay for play or cash for comments?, how much is a chairman's lounge membership worth?) tells us. So they stayed.

Alan may be a wealthy man, he needs every cent.

Last edited by Tuck Mach; 21st Nov 2016 at 22:42.
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Old 21st Nov 2016, 23:44
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Tuck Mach, spot on

It is evident by the numbers "testing the waters" going from QF to JQ on the MOU, SO's to JQ, LWOP to J* Vietnam, JQNZ, EK, QR etc.

Having a little look outside the comforts of QF, without actual letting go of the golden Parachute.

Once their MOU/LWOP time was up, there was a steady stream of guys trying China Southern for a bit more LWOP, just to see how it was. (the US$30k a month tax free and AUS basing helps), or EK for the SO's, still with their spot back at QF if it all doesn't work out.

One of the QF SO's that went to EK says he is more likely to get a A380 command at EK before he is eligible for a FO spot at QF! That'd make it a tough choice.

There is even a Recruiting company owned by some QF guys for all your contract needs.

So now we have a segment of QF guys that have seen the green grass (it's all astro turf anyway), the big decision now is where they want to live for the next 20/30 years.

Sandpit or Coogee?
Tax or no Tax?
Industrial protection or none?
Fast command or slow steady progress with legacy rosters?

IMHO this directly attributed to the new 787 deal being signed off, as the scare tactic of greenfields AOC, or JQ operating the -9, was too much to bear.

I am not condoning the IR behaviour of Oldmeadow and Joyce, but it has worked a treat. If they start to run out of Pilots, they can lobby the government to allow 457 visas to plug the gap in the short term, but the longer term view will be to shift flying to a cheaper entity or contract within the group, once again with the governments blessing to get around those pesky "transfer of business" rules.

Remember, we fly aeroplanes, they run companies. Our interests are not the same.
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Old 22nd Nov 2016, 00:39
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"Remember, we fly aeroplanes, they run companies. Our interests are not the same."

What a great quote! I like it
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Old 22nd Nov 2016, 00:41
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Good read Tuck Mach, thank you. The cynic/skeptic within continually asks if these skilled person shortages are part of an overall plan to dumb down training req's <further> and/or open the flood gates; a rather basic/primitive view, I know...
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Old 22nd Nov 2016, 02:06
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Rex is feeling the crunch. 40 captains have left for majors in the past 6 months while many others wait for their start dates. With their requirements as high as some of the majors they are being overlooked and it might be a little scary where they end up in the coming months.
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Old 22nd Nov 2016, 02:16
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You are correct, although Qantas focused the reality is that this is economy wide. Any skill set that has along lead time and cost is something that has a problem. The demographic trend is something that will overwhelm everything including our social security system.
As I said if the companies get around the living in Australia bit with realistic rostering and remuneration, any chummy emails from the same Flight Operations management that locked out Qantas pilots fall on even deafer (sorry pun intended!) ears.

You are not cynical, the play in this country has to using nominal small pay rises to undermine the real wage. Doing so would improve competitiveness. It started with Hawke and Keating during the accord years. Real wages in Australia are not growing much and have been stagnant for many years. 457 visas are the tool of choice to keep downwards pressure on wages.

Aviation it is a global market, and pilots are not averse to movement. Although a 457 ploy may help short term, ultimately it induces a shortage somewhere else. The market in action. Supply will meet demand when the price is met.
As Roj alluded to, the IR strategy is to intimidate and scare. Then open the MOU to JQ and see who the takers are. The classic greenfield operation, but from the inside! The short haul EA will likely be opened on a market downturn, with the A320 neo introduction, and the standard threat of it will be crewed by Network, Qantas link, Jetconnect (are we missing one?) It is a shame the myopic union management didn't see the potential to reduce supply using a contracting company. The AMA control supply very well.

Ironically they (management) do not see it coming, Australia retires a substantial component of the workforce in the next decade. Why do you think the pension age keeps increasing?; not enough taxpayers!

Qantas management chose to be adversarial, grounding an airline, belittling staff, destroying brand value and pursuing pointless JQ wet dreams in Asia.With the same management in place, is it any wonder pilots will test waters, not the greenfield JQ but other carriers....There is no trust no matter what the skewed data of company structured surveys say!

I am certainly not excusing VA, they all read from the same script to a more or less degree. Even wonder what CEO's discuss at IATA?

Having said that, it isn't an IR problem per se, VAH has problems of a financial nature, but the impact is still the same.

Good real commuting contracts poaching pilots (otherwise known as strategic assets) is the Achilles heel of Australian airlines....
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Old 22nd Nov 2016, 02:35
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What can be guaranteed is that the collective pilot group will not benefit from holding any potential "upper-hand" that could develop from such a "shortage". We will not band together and we will continue to step over our own mothers to secure the best deal (at the time) for Number One. My prediction, anyway...
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Old 22nd Nov 2016, 03:17
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Does anyone have a source for pilot numbers being produced by region ( Asia/Pacific) annually? Or to get that would you have to spend a few days collating info from all the various countries regulators?
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Old 22nd Nov 2016, 10:00
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"Does anyone have a source for pilot numbers being produced by region ( Asia/Pacific) annually?"


Might be a little info on this report around page 10:
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Old 22nd Nov 2016, 17:51
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Thanks fanguy, very interesting.
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