General Industry

More Than A Third Of Airline Pilots Still Not Flying As Pandemic Drags On – Survey

By Dave Simpson
More Than A Third Of Airline Pilots Still Not Flying As Pandemic Drags On – Survey

More than one third of airline pilots are still not flying, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take its toll on aviation globally, according to a new survey, though the situation has improved from a year earlier, when the majority were grounded.

Poll Of More Than 1,700 Pilots

A poll of more than 1,700 pilots by UK-based GOOSE Recruitment and industry publication FlightGlobal found that, globally, 62% were employed and currently flying, up from 43% a year earlier.

The proportion of unemployed pilots fell from 30% to 20%, while 6% were on furlough, compared with 17% previously, as air traffic began to bounce back from 2020 lows.

Asia-Pacific Region

In the Asia-Pacific region – the worst hit, globally, by a drop in international travel due to tough border restrictions – the proportion of those unemployed rose from 23% to 25%. The region also had the lowest number of those employed flying, at 53%.

‘We have [...] seen some expatriates return home from the region due to concerns over quarantine or being stuck for long periods away from friends and family,’ the report on the survey read.


Pilot Attrition At Cathay Pacific Airways

Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways, a large expatriate employer in Asia, has lost hundreds of pilots through the closure of its Cathay Dragon regional arm, as well as almost all of its overseas bases during the pandemic.

Pilot attrition at Cathay has also been rising amid strict layover rules that leave crew members locked in hotels when they are not flying.

Concerned About Job Security

Of the pilots still flying globally, 61% told the survey that they were concerned about their job security.

“Struggling To Get Vaccines”

“It appears only Northern America is back to post-COVID passenger numbers,” said an unnamed captain flying in the Middle East and Africa. “The rest of the world, especially developing nations, are still struggling to get vaccines, and are still not travelling.”

News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.