The first half of 2021 has continued to be a challenging time for the aviation industry. However, with some encouraging but early signs of recovery of late, my team and I are happy to share our latest thoughts on what is happening in pilot recruitment.
The tone of the conversations we are having with airlines is changing from “you want to talk about pilot recruitment – you’ve got to be joking” to “thanks for keeping in touch and let’s talk again next month”. Airlines are a little more optimistic about the sector’s prospects and this is starting to slowly filter through to pilot recruitment. There is more positivity in the media, but it is not yet translating to pilot recruitment.
The majority of pilots still have not flown since early 2020, and we expect that there will be a shortage of pilots who are current and ready to fly when global airlines start hiring again. Pilots are in limbo! ‘When should I invest to renew my License Proficiency Check?’. For pilots who want to be first in line for jobs, being current will be a key factor. However, it is an expensive business and getting the timing right for the recovery will be hard.
Cargo is king! Cargo airlines have enjoyed a purple patch during the pandemic, and there are no signs of the sector slowing down. Competition for pilot jobs with cargo airlines is incredibly stiff. With not only cargo pilots competing for these jobs, there are also now airline pilots trying to transition to cargo, to either keep flying or restart their flying careers. The cargo airlines continue to set the bar high with stringent requirements for candidates.
Low-hour pilots have all but vanished! Pre-pandemic, there was a shortage of experienced pilots and the phone rang every day with low-hour pilots trying to bridge the gap and become an airline pilot. Eighteen months later there is nothing to be heard from these low-hour pilots. We hear many have given up on a pilot career and returned to what they did before or like a lot of pilots, they have been forced to take alternative employment. As airlines continue to feel the impact of the pandemic, we predict that huge numbers of these low-hour pilots will never return to flying. The gap between where low-hour pilots are at and what airlines demand continues to widen.
Pilots have had it tough and it is going to take huge efforts to get them back in the seat again. Furloughed, made redundant and generally feeling unloved, add in the impact this period has had on pilot's mental health and the re-training required to get them confident again – there is some considerable heavy lifting to do and we should perhaps expect some bumpy landings for a while!
Very few sectors have been impacted by the pandemic like the aviation sector. Many pilots through either choice or necessity, will have during this prolonged period hung-up their flight bag never to return to flying. We at GOOSE, predict that pilot recruitment will turn full-circle, and as the global recovery gains momentum, we will quickly again see shortages of experienced pilots. That’s why during this period we have continued to invest and grow our team to be ready to support pilots and airlines during the recovery.
Here's to sunnier days.
CEO & Founder – GOOSE Recruitment