Editor’s comment: I just don’t get it…

LARA editor Glenn Sands provides a summary of the latest happenings across the low-fare airline and regional aviation industry.

Across all sections of the commercial aviation industry, everyone is discussing and debating the looming pilot shortage. There are simply not enough trained professionals in the cockpit.
For anyone wanting to be a commercial pilot – regional, short-haul or long-haul – reaching that goal is a lengthy, difficult and expensive path. But most achieve it.

If not sponsored by an airline, many future pilots work jobs on the side to finance their training. The hardships and financial burden take their toll, but I have no doubt this all gets forgotten as soon as they taxi ‘their’ airliner filled with passengers onto the runway for the first time.

So, it’s surprising that Ryanair has announced it might be making 500 of its pilots redundant due to the on-going Boeing 737 MAX crisis. The airline is one of the largest users of the type, but its attitude is in total contrast to airlines in the US in a similar position.
The US companies have elected not to dismiss their pilots, acknowledging that while those pilots may not be flying at the moment, it’s not their fault.

Southwest Airlines has its priorities right. It’s holding on to its MAX pilots, and recently signed an agreement with CAE to train 700 new professional pilots during a 10-year programme. Known as “Destination 225o, it will support Southwest Airlines in developing world-class pilots who are ready to fly ‘The Southwest Way’,” said Alan Kasher, Southwest Airlines’ VP of Flight Operations.

The regional and low-cost carriers will most likely feel the impact of a pilot shortage most acutely. As more senior pilots seek to go long-haul, and with a trickle of ‘new blood’ coming through, the LCCs and regional airlines need to look after their trained assets and remember that pilots aren’t luggage to be off-loaded when times get tough.

The editor’s comment is published weekly as an accompaniment to the LARA e-newsletter. If you do not currently receive our email updates, you can subscribe here.

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