If we fade out the corona pandemic for a moment and recall the news about pilot shortage from two years ago, the picture was clear and transparent:
Pilots urgently needed!
The two main rivals at the aircraft manufacturer market, Airbus and Boeing were united in their forecast: In September 2019, so just before the pandemic hit, Airbus and Boeing predicted that the number of aircraft would more than double within the next twenty years. The biggest growth would be in Asia Pacific, second would be in Europe. New airlines were projected and corresponding traffic growth. As these aircraft orders are the key indicator for airline resource planning, the demand for pilots can roughly be derived.
Then came Corona…
Passenger traffic basically came to a stand-still overnight in most parts of the world. Just cargo flights ensured the remaining flow of goods to transport health and safety equipment in the first weeks and months and keep a minimum value chain alive for the global economy. Thousands of pilots were laid off. This process is still ongoing and also in 2022 it can be expected that airlines in Europe will furlough cockpit staff.
The current disruption in commercial aviation will push forward current airline fleet strategies for fleet renewal, not for growth. The trend to phase out four-engine aircraft was obvious already before the pandemic, but now there are fast decisions and executions. In average years, 2-3% of the aircraft fleet retires annually. In past industry downturns this rate has risen to 4-5%, so this can be expected for the pandemic as well. The overarching airline strategy will focus on versatile fleets that provide network flexibility with an improved efficiency and sustainability.
In this joint article by Lufthansa Consulting and M2P Consulting the aviation experts analyze the impact on pilot demand in the short, medium and long-term using data from projected growth trends in the aviation industry in the different areas of the world and other mega trends that could counteract the situation.