Boeing forecasts higher demand for pilots as air travel recovers

China, Europe and North America represent more than half of the total new personnel demand over the next 20 years

Passengers wait in a hall at the Copenhagen Airport in Kastrup, Denmark. Boeing anticipates increased demand for labour in the next two decades. EPA
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Boeing raised its 20-year global demand forecast for commercial airline pilots and other aviation workers by 3.4 per cent from 2021 as air travel recovers from the coronavirus pandemic with fleet expected to double during the period.

The US plane maker now projects a need for 602,000 pilots, 610,000 maintenance technicians and 899,000 cabin crew members to safely support the recovery in commercial air travel and staff the fleet over the next two decades, according to its latest Pilot and Technician Outlook (PTO).

“As the commercial aviation industry recovers from the pandemic and plans for long-term growth, we anticipate a steady and increasing demand for aviation personnel, as well as the ongoing need for highly effective training,” Chris Broom, vice president of Commercial Training Solutions at Boeing Global Services, said.

Boeing's latest outlook excludes the Russia region, which is not included in this year's PTO because of sanctions that prohibit exports of aircraft manufactured in western countries and market uncertainty, the plane maker said.

China, Europe and North America represent more than half of the total new personnel demand, the report showed.

The fastest growing regions are Africa, South-East Asia and South Asia, with all three expected to grow by more than 4 per cent over the forecast period.

The Middle East will need 53,000 new pilots, 50,000 new technicians and 99,000 new cabin crew, according to the outlook.

The region's aviation industry has been driven by airlines such as Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways that are reporting recovery from the pandemic with surging demand for travel.

Boeing's new aviation personnel outlook comes while the global industry is facing a shortage of employees. Many who were laid off during the pandemic have moved into other occupations and flexible work options.

Airlines and airports are racing to source recruits to meet the rise in demand, but the labour crunch has led to disruption at airports and capacity cuts at airlines.

The recent staff shortages at airlines and airports led to severe disruptions at some major travel centres, resulting in cancelled flights and long security queues.

After waves of layoffs at the peak of the pandemic, rehiring staff fast enough to meet recovering demand has become a major challenge for the industry.

Staffing shortages are forcing airlines to cut capacity below planned levels, impeding their ability to serve the stronger-than-expected recovery in air travel demand, Moody's Investors Service said in a June report.

Updated: July 26, 2022, 12:33 PM