Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky 2022-07-27 20:53:19 –
Tens of thousands of last-minute flight delays or cancellations happening this year. Maybe you have experienced it yourself. But what you may not know is that these cancellations are the result of an old problem in the aviation industry that is boiling right now. A problem that dates back decades before COVID was in crisis.
And all of this has led to the industry-wide pilot shortage we see today.
Henry Harteveldt is a travel industry analyst at the Atmosphere Research Group.
“COVID has completely defeated the aviation industry, which has contributed to this pilot shortage that airlines are currently working very hard on recovery,” said Harteveldt.
Today, airlines have faced similar shortages before. They first saw a major job freeze and job cuts in 2001. The September 11 attack grounded flights nationwide. The industry did not make a profit again until 2006, with losses of over $ 60 billion over the five years. In the next decade, airlines have survived bankruptcies, mergers and, of course, the 2008 Great Recession. By 2018, four airlines dominated about 75% of the market and many other airlines were closed. Airline employment has not yet recovered to its peak in early 2001.
And, as you can imagine, pilots can’t be easily replaced.
“You need to have 1500 hours of flight experience starting with becoming a private pilot. Then you can get another pilot license. It takes about 3 years for someone to get the experience they need from inexperienced. In some cases it can cost more. Become an air transport pilot and train can cost more than $ 100,000. ”
Older pilots are getting older from their role, as new pilots are still years of training. The Federal Aviation Administration requires the retirement of commercial airline pilots at the age of 65. The law was passed in 2007 to change the limit from 60 to 65, hoping to make up for the shortfall at the time. There was already a debate about moving it back. But Secretary of Transportation Pete Butigeg said it was not the focus of the Biden administration.
“The answer is not to keep baby boomers in the cockpit indefinitely. The answer is that as many good pilots as possible are ready to take their place in order to have a stronger pipeline. It’s about making sure, “said Butigeg.
For pilots in the air, short staff covers come at the cost.
To meet the surge in travel demand over the last two years, airlines have exceeded the schedule for unstaffed flights. Pilot unions at home and abroad have warned about burnout and malaise. For example, several European trade groups have publicly criticized Hungarian Airlines’ CEO Wizz Air for discouraging staff from calling due to illness due to fatigue.
Wizz Air CEO Jojev Varadi said:
“Therefore, the FAA requires pilots to take at least 10 hours of rest between the last trip of the day and the first trip of the next day. Working pilots, they are working longer hours. And they’re tired, they’re worried about fatigue, and that’s justified. I don’t want tired pilots to get behind the wheels on the plane, “Hartebert said.
The union hopes that the shortage will help pilots ensure higher wages and more protection against things like burnouts.
For example, Germany’s leading airliner Lufthansa saw a major strike this week during a wage debate. Pilots and ground staff organized a large strike, causing thousands of cancellations on Wednesday.
And in the meantime, these discussions have been going on for years in the United States. The pilot negotiation process is very complex and it is very difficult for pilots to strike legally in the United States. The federal government can prevent strikes and labor disputes that interfere with interstate commerce. And it includes transit workers.
Therefore, the shortage of pilots cannot be resolved immediately. It is due to a complete storm of factors. And the fallout from COVID exacerbated the crisis — from the first billions of losses and massive headcount reductions, a sudden recovery in demand, and the thousands of airlines that caught COVID during the surge. To the staff.
But now that industry problems have reached consumers and caused widespread flight disruption, there may finally be momentum to address the roots of the problem.
“And you all have a lot of part of the air transport industry working to rebuild themselves. It’s just lumpy trash that’s falling off the wall and trying to get itself back. No, it’s the entire carton of eggs, “said Harteveldt.
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