Airlines, flight schools try to lure pilots with cheaper

SINGAPORE — In 2014, Danny Perna found himself caught up in the global shortage of pilots that has vexed airlines from China to the United States. For the first time in 15 years, the founder of Epic Flight Academy in Florida couldn’t find enough trained U.S. pilots to be flight instructors at his school. Offering sign-on bonuses of up to $10,000 did not help, he said. Eventually they decided to advertise a sponsorship program to partially fund pilot cadets’ training. “Basically once we started to fund training then it satisfied the pilot shortage,” he told Reuters by phone from Florida. Newly trained U.S. pilots are usually required to teach at flight schools to gain the hours needed to join an airline. “So in our opinion it’s not a pilot shortage, it’s a funding or finance shortage, the inability for young people to be able to afford training.” His realization is hitting other airlines and flight schools too, as growing competition across the world for a shrinking pool of trained pilots pushes up salaries and prevents carriers from operating at full capacity. Pilots say the burden on cadets to pay for their flight training, which can cost more than $70,000, has been a key reason why enrolment has plummeted at flight schools, especially in places like the U.S. and Australia. Many banks suspended loans for flight training after the 2008 financial crisis. Many experienced pilots were also laid off at the time, which analysts said concealed how few new student pilots… [Read full story]

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