Chinese airlines are buying foreign flying schools and poaching pilots, which is amplifying a talent shortage that has affected airlines in other regions, reports the Financial Times.
“The growth in Chinese aviation is unprecedented in our lifetimes and probably in history,” said Paul Jebely, a Hong-Kong-based lawyer specializing in aviation. “There have been more aircraft ordered than there are pilots to fly them.”
The squeeze on flying talent has triggered flight cancellations, dented profits and threatened the industry’s ambitious growth targets around the world. Emirates is the latest major airline to feel the impact of a war for aviation talent with the United Arab Emirates-based carrier cancelling flights and grounding aircraft this month due to a shortage of about 125 pilots.
Experts say the pilot shortage has been prompted by surging demand for air travel fueled by the rise of low cost carriers in recent decades.
China is on course to overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest air travel market by 2022, according to the International Air Transport Association. U.S. aircraft maker Boeing predicts China will need 110,000 new pilots in the years through to 2035, and its airlines are expected to purchase 7,000 commercial aircraft over the next two decades. (Source: The Financial Times)
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