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One-third of commercial pilots still grounded as pandemic drags on

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on airlines throughout the world, more than a third of commercial pilots are still unable to fly.

According to a new survey released on January 27, 2022 by FlightGlobal and aviation recruitment firm Goose, this is the case.

Before the Omicron edition of COVID-19 emerged, a survey of 1,743 pilots was conducted around the world.

According to the findings, 62 percent of pilots stated they were employed and currently flying, up from only 43 percent a year before.

However, the poll points out that there are significant disparities in this image around the world.

81 percent of pilots said they were flying in North America, where airlines have been lowering schedules and offering additional incentives to crews to battle staffing shortages.

Only 62% of pilots stated they were employed and flying in Europe, while only 53% said they were working and flying in Asia-Pacific (excluding China), where many countries are functionally blocked due to tight COVID-19 rules.

Domestic flying has remained robust in the United States throughout the pandemic, and the early retirement of senior captains has contributed to the resumption of a flight crew shortage that was already in place in 2019, with a paucity of fresh first officers having come through since then.

First officer pay in North America have increased by about 20% in the last two years, according to Mark Charman, CEO and founder of Goose Recruitment.

“This can be explained to an extent by the shortage of this rank in the region and airlines having to pay a premium to recruit. With the high rates of pilots at retirement age, pilots are a valuable asset in Northern America right now.”

Salary reduction and job instability, however, are major concerns for many respondents. Almost a quarter of the unemployed pilots polled stated they lacked confidence in their ability to return to the cockpit.

“I don’t think that anyone could blame an unemployed pilot for losing some confidence whilst facing unemployment,” Sophie Wild, FlightGlobal divisional director, commented. “Whether it is temporary or permanent, unemployment can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges.

On top of this, uncertainty related to COVID-19 only adds to the angst. We hope that the sector and airlines are already planning on how they can make the transition from unemployment to flying again run smoothly and safely.”

Meanwhile, 55% of those polled said they would not suggest the job to a young person.

Only 29% of individuals polled stated they would not suggest becoming a pilot before the pandemic. Furthermore, 37% of those polled claimed they would not become pilots if they could go back in time.


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