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Nov 04

Global Airline Pilot Recruitment and Hiring Forecast for 2017

“2017 is shaping up to be the year of recruitment” reports Flightdeck Consulting’s Sasha Robinson. “With over 100 aircraft being delivered to the goliath Middle Eastern carriers, a similar number to China and a return to profit for western airlines hiring of qualified aircrew will be in overdrive”.

As with previous years Etihad, Emirates and Qatar airlines will lead the charge with the former introducing both the A380 and A350 into it’s fleet next year. But don ‘t loose focus on the big Asian carriers, Cathay Pacific alone intends to recruit upward of 300 pilots, mainly through their Advanced Cadet Program.

In Australia the focus of the last few years has been the war between Qantas and Virgin over capacity, which now appears to have ended in a truce. This combined with falling fuel prices, increased airfares and the abolition of the carbon tax points to clearing skies for the financially challenged airlines. In recent weeks Virgin Australia’s CEO John Borghetti has signalled an expansion into Asia and other short haul international routes, this has also coincided with recent recruitment onto the B777 and ATR fleets.

For experienced wide body captains seeking contract employment China’s continued growth has provided lucrative opportunities. With salaries pushing the 240k mark, the rising US Dollar, increased competition for experienced captains and the seemingly never ending arrival of new airframes China is still the preferred destination for expatriate captains. Airlines such as China Southern and China Eastern have tailored their contracts around lifestyle in a means to attract more expatriates. “Month on month off, Three weeks on one week off and business class travel to your domicile base is now the norm for these airlines” says Sasha. “We are seeing an ever increasing number of expat Captains currently in the Middle East moving into the world of contract flying in a bid to move back to their home country, The Chinese airlines are providing a way home for these captains and their families”.

The North American pilot shortage is starting to bite both big and small carriers alike with competition for drivers having an upward effect on pilot salaries. With most furloughed pilots back in the cockpit recruitment is going external with hiring expected to be steady throughout 2015.

Boeing, one of the largest aircraft manufacturers in the world has estimated that the United States alone will require up to 25,000 new pilots a year for the next two decades to cope with expected demand.

Whilst 2015 will provide opportunities for new hires and movement throughout the industry competition for these new positions will be tough. With little or no movement globally on the recruitment front over the past couple of years there will be no shortage of experienced pilots applying for these new positions. “Preparation, as always, will be the key to success”, Sasha advises.

By Sasha Robinson

Sasha Robinson Flightdeck Consulting

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The Complete Airline Pilot Interview Workbook

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Flightdeck Consulting specialises in aircrew recruitment, pilot interview training and career management.



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