“In 2022 there should be more than 790 pilots missing from European airlines and in 2023 there will be a shortage of close to 2,300 of these professionals. The Oliver Wyman study estimates that the problem will increase from year to year, reaching 2029 with the need for 3,900 pilots in European aviation alone”, reads the same note.
The consultant also said, "Europe is the third region in the world least affected by the lack of civil aviation pilots", adding that the situation is residual in Africa and South America and that "at the end of the decade there will be a shortage of 22,670 pilots in the Asia/Pacific region, 20,600 in North America, and 12,400 in the Middle East”.
According to Oliver Wyman in total, "it is estimated that there are around 60,000 pilots in civil aviation around the world". The consultant also indicated that "covid-19 has strongly affected the need for pilots, with the abrupt cut in tourism and work trips" and that last year there were 23,376 professionals stopped, "with no opportunity to fly, only in Europe".
Oliver Wyman believes that the recovery in aviation, in the passenger segment, “starts in early 2022”, but explained that “the demand for pilots, however, is determined more by the number of plane departures, not so much by the number of passengers”. The consultant revealed that, globally, "aircraft fleets have already recovered 76 percent of pre-Covid-19 levels", while in China, where the virus was controlled more quickly, "99 percent of the planes are already circulating".
Oliver Wyman also recalled that, in 2019, 62 percent of the flight operations leaders it consulted “already admitted the risk of a lack of qualified pilots, for different reasons”. Thus, in the US, “there were too many professionals reaching retirement age”, while in China, “the growth of the middle class fuelled the demand for air travel”.
"The pandemic crisis has exposed the cyclical nature of this profession, with many pilots being laid off due to the sudden drop in flights, and many others being left in a situation of economic instability, contrary to the traditional image of a stable, profitable, and attractive career", highlighted the consultant. In addition, the pandemic has led to many airlines “interrupting training programs for new pilots, in many cases because banks have cut funding for these actions,” she said.
“Although it is expected that many of the pilots dismissed during the pandemic will return to their positions, between 25,000 and 35,000 current and future professionals will be able to opt for career alternatives in the next decade”, warned the consultant. For Oliver Wyman, in this scenario, airlines must “adopt quick solutions, which necessarily involve the optimisation of existing human resources; for the firm commitment to training new pilots, and for the commitment to applying the necessary tools to retain talent”. Last month, TAP began a collective dismissal process for 124 workers, comprised of 35 pilots.