Want to work as a pilot but worried about the impact of COVID?
Now might actually be the best time to start your training.
Think about this:
- by the time you are ready to look for a job, the industry should be recovering and more jobs available.
- it’s not just about the big international airlines. With international travel slowed down, people are looking for more local activities to do… a great way to build experience is through charter and scenic flights – just what people are looking for right now.
- air cargo is still a vital part of global infrastructure.
- many airline pilots that have been put out of work by the pandemic won’t return to their jobs when it’s over, leaving a pilot shortage when the industry does eventually recover. Some have gone into early retirement, some will be too close to retirement age by the time the jobs are available, and some will have just found something else they enjoy more. A younger generation of pilots will be needed to fill the gaps.
The aviation industry, like many others, has cycles. It’s affected by a number of things, like natural disasters, terrorist attacks, politics, global finances, and, most clearly displayed at the moment, diseases.
This isn’t the first time the aviation industry has been impacted by disease. You might remember the SARS outbreak in 2003, or avian and swine flus in 2006 and 2009.
But it bounces back.
FlightRadar24 data shows that, globally, the industry is slowly recovering. From almost 110,000 flights a day in February 2020, the pandemic saw a drop to around 24,000 flights a day in May – but back up to 80,000 a day in December 2020 (Dube et al 2021).
Air cargo dropped only 8%, and had almost returned to pre-pandemic levels by November 2020 (Pearce 2020). Now, air cargo is operating 9.4% above what it was in May 2019 (Gulbas 2021). In November last year, IATA predicted air passenger travel would return to 2019 levels by 2024 (Pearce 2020). Global domestic recovery is already proving strong, with kilometers flown down only 23.9% compared to May 2019 (Gulbas 2021).
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realise that new strains and ever-changing border restrictions, health guidelines, and vaccination rates will all continue to impact the industry until a “new normal” is achieved.
There is, however, a sense in the industry that it is not a matter of if a pilot shortage will occur, but when. While no one can predict the timeline, if it’s something you’ve been thinking about for a while, why not now?
One thing seems certain, airlines won’t have the spare cash to pay for the training of new pilots for a while. Cadetship programs will be slow to start up again. Individuals are going to have to invest in themselves if they want to be part of the next generation of airline pilots.
Whether you’re looking for a career change, or your next step after school, TVSA is proud to offer several finance options to help students invest in their training. Please check out our Finance tab or contact us for more information.
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References & Other Resources:
Czerny, A.I., Fu, X., Lei, Z., & Oum, T.H. 2021. Post pandemic aviation market recovery: Experience and lessons from China, Journal of Air Transport Management, 90, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jairtraman.2020.101971
Dube, K., Nhamo, G., & Chikodzi, D. 2021. COVID-19 pandemic and prospects for recovery of the global aviation industry, Journal of Air Transport Management, 92, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jairtraman.2021.102022
Gulbas, E. COVID-19 Air travel update: Optimism with caution, IATA Economic Report, July 2021
Murray, G. After COVID-19, Aviation faces a pilot shortage, https://www.oliverwyman.com/our-expertise/insights/2021/mar/after-covid-19-aviation-faces-a-pilot-shortage.html
Pearce, B., Outlook for Air Transport and the Airline Industry, IATA Annual General Meeting, November 2020
International Air Transport Association (IATA) COVID Resources page: https://www.iata.org/en/programs/covid-19-resources-guidelines/
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) COVID News page: https://www.icao.int/covid/Pages/default.aspx