How The Covid-19 is Effecting Pilots

By Julius Choudhury

The Covid-19 pandemic is affecting all industries and of course it has impacted greatly on the demand for air travel.

The airline industry is responding to the international emergency by decreasing flights and the crew that they need.  It employs millions of people, underpins the livelihoods of tens of millions more, and is at the core of international business and leisure.




Understandably, the industry is in survival mode, with airlines, airports and ground-handling firms all desperate to conserve their cash reserves, while their normal revenue streams have dried up.

It’s still so unknown as to what the future holds for people moving around the world more freely, so airlines can not prepare for where aircraft will be allowed to fly to - as decisions are made and changed so frequently.  There are logistical challenges to consider too - aircraft need to be prepared for flight and have engineers available, as well as airports needing to be made ready to receive them. Schedules need to be drawn up, and staff made available. All of these factors happen like clockwork in normal functioning airports around the globe.

More specifically, for pilots, it’s imperative that they spend time in the air, or in the simulator, to maintain their permits to fly specific aircraft. They also need regular medical checks to ensure that they are fit to fly and all of these factors still come into play, even when airplanes are grounded. Other critical staff, such as air traffic control personnel and engineers, have time-limited qualifications as well.

Although the timing now may not seem right, when airlines return to more normal patterns, they will be looking for the most qualified candidates and those that have spent the time getting a private pilot certificate.

Pilots who start their training now will be well placed to get a head start on building their hours and will be considered more desirable to employers - especially as flight hours are crucial.


Looking at the the long term

The long-term demand for airline pilots remains at unprecedented levels.  It takes two years to become a qualified airline pilot, making it essential to consider the long-term career outlook. The factors that caused the pilot shortage are still in effect. It’s worth noting that thousands of pilots will be retiring when they turn 65 years old while the airline industry is forecast to keep growing to meet demand for air travel and freight. These times may be unusual and unforeseen, but they won’t last forever.


Should you postpone your career for now?

There are effects on pilot hiring, retirement and training new recruits at the moment, but it takes two years to become a qualified airline pilot, and postponing your airline career over a short-term, temporary upset in the industry will affect your seniority and long-term career prospects. Delaying your entry into the profession while other pilots continue to fly, means they will be ahead of you in seniority by the time you reach the airlines.

Pilots at your airline will choose the aircraft that they operate, their monthly schedules, their vacation schedules, and how much they are paid based on their seniority. If this is the career for you, then there is no time like the present to make a decision.

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