Demand for pilots is heating up in the Asia-Pacific region as
new aircraft are added to fleets and ageing pilots retire.
Pilot trainers and an Auckland-based placement company say
Kiwi pilots have a good reputation and in the post-global
financial crisis tightening cycle are picking up work around
Plane makers Airbus and Boeing are planning significant
production increases with deliveries forecast to go from the
current 400 a year to around 2000 by 2019.
Many of these planes will be crewed by retrained pilots but a
large number of new ones will be needed.
Hamilton airline flight training school CTC Wings said its
research showed in the Asia Pacific region and China close to
90,000 pilots would be needed by 2023.
In Australia demand had fallen since the Qantas announcement
of thousands of job cuts six months ago but in Asia, and
Japan in particular, demand was strong, said CTC's chief
operating officer Peter Stockwell.
Thousands of flights in Japan could be cancelled this summer
as the country's rapidly ageing population leads to a
nationwide shortage of airline pilots.
One budget airline, Peach Aviation, has said that more than
2000 flights between May and October may be affected by pilot
shortages. Vanilla Air, another low-cost carrier, recently
announced the cancellation of 154 flights this month after
struggling to recruit sufficient staff to fly its planes.
Regional airlines in the United States - notoriously poor
payers - were also short of staff.
Stockwell said Vietnam's aviation sector was rapidly
expanding airline operations and China was a huge market.
"Part of the issue with a lot of these places is dealing with
the regulators," he said.
Around the world attrition accounts for 30 per cent of demand
and fleet changes and expansion the remainder, according to
the CTC report.
Aviation recruitment specialist Rishworth Aviation said it
was difficult to get a handle on overall demand but it was
"Post GFC [global financial crisis] we're finding it harder
to get guys for a lot of our contracts. Maybe the supply
globally is okay but there'll be major imbalances between
where they need to be. There's growth in Asia but all the
infrastructure for training is in Europe and America," said
managing director Mark East.
New Zealand pilots are well regarded around the world because
of their flexibility and adaptability.
New Zealand Airline Pilots Association president Wayne
Renwick said in this country there didn't seem to be a
"We don't believe there is a shortage now. There may be in
the future but there seems to be enough perfectly trained and
qualified pilots who could step up through the system."
New international rules requiring both pilots in a cockpit to
be under 65 are due to be introduced later this year although
there will be exemptions in New Zealand.
Renwick said that as long as a pilot is licensed and holds a
valid medical certificate human rights laws mean there can't
be discrimination on age grounds.
- By Grant Bradley of the NZ Herald