Home Airlines & Airliners Pilot Demand in the Next 10 Years: Are We Ready for It?

Pilot Demand in the Next 10 Years: Are We Ready for It?

by syed-hassaan-khalid

The aviation industry is one of the most dynamic and complex sectors in the world, requiring highly skilled and qualified professionals to operate and manage its activities. Among them, pilots are the most essential and visible workforce and without them there would be no aviation sector, as the industry is driven by them.

However, there is a serious challenge faced by this industry that is the pilot shortage. The issue is not just a local issue, but a central and global one, with far-reaching implications and it’s expected to worsen in the next decade due to various factors such as retirement, attrition, training costs, and regulatory changes.

In this article, we will explore the current situation and future trends of the pilot demand and supply, and discuss the possible solutions and implications for the industry and society.


Factors Affecting Pilot Demand

To understand the pilot demand and supply gap, we need to examine the factors that affect both sides of the equation.

The main challenges are the high cost and duration of pilot training, several strict requirements, and the competition from other industries.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), global passenger traffic is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 3.6% over the next 20 years, reaching 8.2 billion passengers by 2037.

But the question is: Are we really prepared to face that growth?

Let’s first discuss why there is increased demand in air travel before moving evaluating how we should face this challenge.

The main factors that are enhancing air travel are;


Economic growth

As we are well-aware of the terrible situation that engulfed every field during the pandemic, it damaged almost every organization and industry, one way or the other. However, as the situation started to recover, the companies became desperate to reestablish equilibrium, and for that, they applied new lucrative strategies.

In the case of airlines, they began offering special discounts and seasonal flights to attract customers. Many of them were regular travelers who couldn’t wait for travel restrictions to ease up so they could get back to their travel plans, whether for vacations or visiting loved ones in other countries.

On the other hand, the frequency of business travelers also began to heighten, as they definitely wanted to resume their plans that were halted due to the outbreak.

The recovery phase progressed faster than anticipated; however, at this point, we cannot definitively state that the aviation industry has fully returned to its pre-pandemic state. Despite this, governmental organizations, especially aviation ministries, are implementing drastic measures to achieve full restoration.

Many flag carriers are state-owned, and a significant percentage of the economy is dependent on them. For instance, cargo operations bolster trade and are in high demand for certain goods, facilitating economic growth for both the airline and the respective country. Hence, requiring greater number of cargo flights. Airbus considered giving its customers the ability to convert its medium-haul Airbus A321 aircraft to cargo variant to counter the demand for cargo operations, as Boeing has the upper hand in the freight sector due to their diversity of cargo aircraft.


Fleet Expanding

The airlines had no choice but to ground a significant number of aircraft during the years 2020-2022, particularly wide-body models such as the Airbus A380, A350-1000, A340-600, as well as Boeing 747, 777-300ER, and the 787-10. Now, with the recovery phase in full swing, many of the previously stored aircraft are being brought back into service.

As many airlines implemented workforce reductions, including pilots, due to the pandemic’s impact, some pilots transitioned to different career paths after losing their jobs. But as demand continues to rise, the need for pilots to operate these reactivated aircraft for various flight routes is also growing.


Flexibility in Travel Culture

In recent times, numerous policies have been revised to relax immigration laws and facilitate travel. The utilization of E-visas has seen a significant increase, gaining popularity due to their convenience. Many countries are also eager to welcome foreigners to work in various sectors to aid in economic recovery, contributing to the rise in air travel.

Similarly, self-service technologies are becoming more prevalent in airports. These technologies encompass self-check-in kiosks, self-baggage drop-off machines, and self-security gates. The integration of self-service technologies enhances the airport experience, making it more efficient and convenient for passengers.



How can we counter this demand?

Air travel is becoming more convenient though the passage of time, thus, we need to counter the demand for pilots. As we are aware, getting a Commercial Pilot License (CPL), is not like getting a driving license; where you pass certain tests and you are eligible to drive. Acquiring a pilot license requires many months of theoretical studies as well as practical experience, including a certain amount of flying hours. On the other hand, the trainee must also have strong financial support.

In this era, the greatest tool that we can utilize to ease several processes is technology. Therefore, in flight schools, a range of techniques and methods can be applied to reduce overall costs. For instance, similar flying lessons can be efficiently practiced using simulators and Virtual Reality (VR) technology.

The government organizations and related ministries can offer merit based scholarships on a certain quota, which would certainly attract more individuals. Furthermore, there’s a perception among some individuals that the role of a pilot is excessively stressful and fatiguing. A potential solution to this problem can involve airlines being transparent about pilots’ work hours, allowing potential employees to assess whether they can meet the airline’s demands.

Additionally, Flexibility in the course structure is crucial. The institutions should collaborate with their students to create schedules that are convenient for both parties, as this can particularly appeal to individuals who are already employed or undergoing internships, allowing them to manage their time effectively to attend flight school classes.

Once again, I would like to emphasize the significance and necessity of taking adequate measures for solving this issue before it creates more trouble. It’s essential for aviation organizations, such as IATA, EASA, and the FAA, to engage in discussions and formulate a future plan.



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