20 May 2024

​How do aviation leaders view their careers? Do they feel secure in their jobs? Are they looking to change jobs? What do they view as most important in their careers? And what skills do they want to develop in the future to become better leaders?

We share the results from the Leaders in Aviation Report 2024.

Over half of aviation leaders are concerned about their job security

In our last survey amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it would have been no surprise that so many leaders may have been concerned about their job security. Three years on and 52% of leaders say job security is still a problem.

I can understand why we still have so many leaders in aviation concerned about their job security. As a leader, there are so many factors today that can influence our jobs and businesses. From economic conditions, political conflict, business stability, market demand, technological changes, and mergers and acquisitions to name but a few.

Businesses thrive when leaders feel secure in their roles, enabling a strategic vision with long-term decisions and plans that benefit the business’s stability and continuity. Investment confidence soars, business culture can thrive, and it can even impact the morale of employees, leading to increased retention and setting the business up as an attractive place to work.

The knock-on effect of concerns over job security is that there is the potential for leaders to act differently and this is significant when it is those who are responsible for leading the business.

Job insecurity by region
Job insecurity by region - Leaders in Aviation Report - GOOSE Recruitment

We asked in a few words, why leaders felt their job security was a concern:

  • A new COO was put in place to reduce overhead costs, eliminating people with high salaries was their priority. Aviation Leader in North America

  • The emergence of AI-powered tools and innovations has the potential to replace people in jobs. Aviation Leader in the Middle East & Africa

  • Ageism – being white, male and over 50. Aviation Leader in Europe

  • I feel as though job security nowadays is a concern for most people. Personally, it is the economic standpoint that concerns me most. Funding is the main concern, because of today’s economy. Aviation Leader in North America

  • Asia (Japan) is unwilling to grow with the rest of the world. Aviation Leader in Asia-Pacific

  • The political situation in the country I live in, inflation and the threat of currency devaluation. Aviation Leader in the Middle East & Africa

  • Leadership changes, culture, and continued long-term viability of our airline in the current economic environment. Aviation Leader in North America

Leadership rotation

Movement at the top can create considerable pressure on businesses, especially if adequate succession planning has not been put into place. Over 40% of aviation leaders said they had changed jobs in the last two years, nearly matching the 39% who said in our 2021 survey that they would be very confident to change jobs in the next two years.

The great regret

22% of those who had changed jobs said they regretted it, and the commonality was that the role itself or the company culture had been overpromised and then had underdelivered. It serves as a poignant lesson for employers and recruiters alike: whilst it is natural to strive to attract top talent by presenting an enticing job offer, these promises must align with the actual work environment and opportunities. Ensuring congruence between promises and reality is essential for building trust, fostering employee satisfaction, and minimising turnover in the long run.

Businesses can pile on the flattery and compliments, pledge the world, and hotly pursue a candidate (usually with good intentions). However, we can see from these results that the reality is not always living up to the expectations. A group of aviation leaders are feeling regret in their job move. They are far from alone in this feeling, and a lesson for us all is that whilst we are motivated to convince the best candidate to take the job offer, promises must meet the reality.

People are planning to change jobs, even you

It is well documented that people are feeling confident changing jobs. More movement at the top is also predicted based on the survey results. 64% of aviation leaders agreed that a job move was on the cards over the next two years.

"With my recruitment hat on, my immediate reaction is movement at the top is a positive move for us, with more businesses needing to source the best senior talent in the aviation and airline sectors. In the last 12 months, we have seen a significant increase in inbound enquiries for senior leadership searches. But, for the businesses themselves, it will create considerable pressure to hire experienced and reliable senior talent. This could create a turbulent talent marketplace, with much unrest at the top, and the potential to affect the sectors moving forward. On top of that, 3% said they were planning to retire We can all take some change, but could the industry deal with huge movement at the top?"

Seeking growth: why challenge matters for aviation leaders

The top reason for aviation leaders to either job seek or stay loyal was the same. They either needed a new challenge in a new job, or their role still challenged them enough to make them stay.

The top three reasons aviation leaders are seeking a new job over the next two years
The top three reasons aviation leaders are seeking a new job in the next two years - GOOSE Recruitment

2024’s key trend will be ‘growth’. We are in a time where many of us are looking for our job to provide continuous learning opportunities. If your job no longer challenges you, your intrinsic motivations (why you get up in the morning) might be depleting. Extrinsic motivations such as reward, title, and power can only hold up for so long.

The top three reasons aviation leaders are staying in their current job over the next two years
The top three reasons aviation leaders are staying in their  current job over the next two years - GOOSE Recruitment

Challenges in our jobs often present opportunities to learn, adapt, and grow in our roles. Overcoming challenges often requires the acquisition of new skills, knowledge, and experiences.

Creativity and innovation can be boosted too. We must explore new ways of doing things and come up with solutions that will benefit business success. We can become more motivated with a better sense of purpose and drive as we continue to learn from mistakes, stay resilient, and achieve success."

Seeking growth - why challenge matters - GOOSE Recruitment
Cultivating commitment through culture and values

Nearly a quarter of aviation leaders who were planning on staying with their employer over the next two years cited the company culture and values as the reason.

"We have already spoken about the impact a toxic or overpromised culture can have on job change regrets. Creating a workplace where people can thrive and be happy backed up by well-thought out values cultivates a commitment from employees to stay loyal. This could be a secret source of driving retention across the board. If your company culture thrives on developing and progressing your employees, I think you could have the competitive edge this year.

Cultivating commitment through culture and values - GOOSE Recruitment
Skills for tomorrow: meeting the challenges of industry trends, AI and new generations

Wanting challenges often means aspiring to learn more and develop new skills. We asked aviation leaders over the next 12 months what the top three skills and knowledge areas they wanted to improve the most. The top answers included knowledge of AI, improved knowledge of industry trends (E.G. Decarbonisation, Green Technology, ESG, Alternative fuels), change management, understanding new generations, communication, and empathetic leadership.

Aviation leaders are aware that they need to lead on the changes that their business makes regarding industry trends such as decarbonisation and ESG. Of course, experts will be needed at other levels, but ultimately leaders must create the vision and make it a reality.

I find it encouraging that so many aviation leaders are determined to advance their knowledge in these fields, and it feels optimistic that aviation is heading in the right direction.

Understanding new generations was a popular answer to this question. Generation Z is creating many debates in people conversations. Different generations are often viewed as vastly dissimilar from one another, but we must also acknowledge some of the similarities and experiences that all generations in our workforce have faced. Rapid changes in technology, political conflict, economic peaks and troughs, global warming, health crises, and social injustice in varying forms have impacted us all.

We must get to grips with what motivates people, what they care about, how they want to be communicated with, how they view reward and loyalty, and what they look for in their leaders across all generations, not just the new.

Using some of these shared experiences instead of purely focusing on what makes us different, may create improved retention strategies with tweaks for any nuances in different groups. Decreasing or eliminating assumptions that the things that motivate people, the way they want to be communicated with, keep them loyal, or make them leave have stayed the same.

Skills for tomorrow: meeting the challenges of industry trends, AI and new generations - GOOSE Recruitment
Leading with clarity

Communication was rated as a top skill to develop in our 2021 survey too. A lack of communication can make employees feel less valued leading to a loss of interest in their roles and the business they work for.

It could be easy to negate communication with employees whilst firefighting other concerns in the business, but in experience, this can lead to animosity rather than advocacy. Building an image of stability, trust, and transparency internally and externally can be done through clear communication in leadership.

Communication can come in many forms and is required with different stakeholders. Human-to-human communication that is transparent and defined is what people crave.

The top skills and knowledge areas aviation leaders want to improve
The top skills and knowledge areas aviation leaders want to improve - GOOSE Recruitment

For the full insights, download the report here:

Leaders in Aviation Report

For all media enquiries, please contact our marketing team.

GOOSE loves to talk to Aviation Professionals from across the world

Follow GOOSE Recruitment on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for the very latest aviation news, updates, exclusive insights and regular hot jobs.

Back to insights

Share this Insight

Meet the author

Banner Default Image

Register to receive