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  • Writer's pictureOussama Salah

Airlines Manpower Shortages Revisited

Updated: Dec 23, 2021

Ever since the airline industry started the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the news were full of flight cancellations, primarily due to the shortage of crew especially in the USA. The crew manpower shortage is an old issue. It started around 2011. This issue was discussed on this blog in June 2011 The New Challenges ... Manpower and Training and in September 2014 The Pilot Shortage Myth, Maybe Not.

In 2014 the pilot shortage was viewed by ALPA at the time as a "Pay Shortage" and not an actual manpower shortage. The thinking, at the time, was that the industry will suffer in 10 to 15 years of a flight crew and technician shortage in the hundred thousands based on airline expansion plans.

Fast forward to 2020 and the COVID-19 Pandemic with strict global lockdowns and massive disruptions to life as we knew it. Airlines furloughed, laid off staff and parked or returned aircraft to reduce losses. As the world learned to cope with the pandemic and airline operations started again airlines faced two issues:

  1. Get aircraft operational (out of parking or storage); and

  2. Get staff (crews, technicians and ground) back to man the operation.

During the Dubai Air Show we all felt the energy of the industry coming back together and looking optimistically to the future; to the much coveted expansion and well being. To achieve this, airlines will need to expand and will probably start feeling the pain of flight crew and technician shortages across the globe around 2025 onwards. Training initiatives and programs need to be launched to encourage younger generations to engage with aviation.

Basically, we are back to where we were in 2014. It is a reset, hopefully we all have learned the lesson and will work diligently to avert it.

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