Asia Pacific, Middle East airlines to face pilot, engineer shortages

SINGAPORE (XFNews-ASIA) - Asia Pacific and Middle East airlines could face serious shortages of skilled personnel such as pilots and engineers after record orders for new aircraft, the Sydney-based Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) said in a statement.

The problem could affect expansion plans by some airlines, CAPA said.

Airline operators in the Asia Pacific and the Middle East are estimated to require 150,000 additional employees to support the new aircraft orders, it said.

China, India, the rest of Asia and the Middle East are expected to be the most affected.

"If I had to choose between fuel costs, rising interest rates and staff shortages as the biggest potential disruption to aviation growth in this region, I would put my money on staff shortages," CAPA executive chairman Peter Harbison said.

"It's the big storm on the radar and some carriers, particularly those in the fast-growing emerging markets, are already feeling the turbulence by trimming expansion plans."

Harbison said the problem should put pressure on governments to ease regulations to make it easier to train and retain airline personnel "while trying to strike a balance with the all-important requirement that safety must come first."

Kevin O'Toole, head of strategy at industry publication Flight International, was quoted as saying in the CAPA statement that the shortages would be mainly pilots and engineers.

"Escalating shortages of skilled workers, particularly pilots and maintenance engineers, will occur after record aircraft orders in this region in recent years," O'Toole said.

"This will push up wages, adding to the cost equation, and potentially hampering expansion plans. It has also proven a problem in lower-wage countries from where pilots are being poached en masse by fiesty new players such as those in the Middle East."

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