IATA’s outgoing chairman HE Akbar al-Baker has urged global airline industry to consider giving scholarships to young men and women who aspire to become pilots, but cannot afford to pay for the training.
“For many young men and women, becoming a pilot is a dream. Unfortunately, for many of them it is not affordable to get trained as pilots and realise their dreams,” al-Baker said at a press conference on the sidelines of the 75th IATA AGM at the COEX Convention Centre in Seoul on Sunday.
“As IATA, we encourage airlines to give scholarships to young men and women in order for them to fulfil their dreams to fly aeroplanes. In Qatar Airways, we encourage pilots and give scholarships to many young people to fulfil their dreams to become a pilot. Many other airlines are doing the same.
“So, if we do this, I don’t think there will be any shortage of pilots at all. Actually, there could be an excess in the pilot population,” al-Baker said referring to the current shortage for pilots worldwide.
An earlier report by IATA showed that the high cost of pilot training and several years of earlier hiring freezes in markets such as the United States and Australia have deterred potential aviators from entering the industry.
According to Boeing, the industry will need 637,000 more pilots over the next 20 years and IATA estimates airline traffic will nearly double during that period.
IATA’s chief economist Brian Pearce noted airlines are expecting to continue hiring over the next 12 months as capacity and traffic are expected to grow further, though the pace of expansion is slower than in the last two years.
“We estimate that total employment by airlines will exceed 2.9mn in 2019, a gain of 2.2% compared to 2018. Productivity is likely to slow a little with the average employee generating just under 530,000 available tonne kilometres (ATKs) a year, which is a 2% improvement over this year,” Pearce said at a media engagement here on Sunday.
He said wages and jobs will rise as employees share the benefits of improved performance. However, having declined or been stable in recent years, unit labour costs are now rising.
“We now forecast an average increase of 1% in 2019. Along with rising fuel costs, this is one of the major contributions to the upward pressure on unit costs this year and the ongoing squeeze on airline profit margins,” Pearce added.
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