AVIATION FESTIVAL ASIA: Pilot shortage hampers growth for AirAsia

Further growth for AirAsia and other carriers in North East Asia is being hindered by the severe pilot shortage in the region as pilots are attracted by higher wages in China, according to James Rhee, chief executive officer North Asia for AirAsia.

“Our growth used to be determined by slots, aircraft availability, bilateral rights, but now it’s all about how many pilots we can get,” Rhee told delegates at the Aviation Festival Asia conference in Singapore.

“We have a huge pilot issue,” he admitted, with a large outflow of pilots from Korea to China as Chinese carriers are paying them more money.

In response, Spring Airlines president Stephen Wang told delegates that China started training large numbers of pilots 10 years ago and after 10-15 years it’s “time for harvest”.

The pilot shortage is also impacting the regulatory environment, with a number of recent downgrades in the region due to the pilot shortage, noted Conrad Clifford, regional vice-president Asia-Pacific for the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Emma Kelly, Asia-Pacific correspondent, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/LARAnews.net

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