Covid-19 Aviation Crisis: What changes will there be in pilot training and the job market after the crisis?

April 22, 2020 | 3 comments Airlines, Flight schools, Pilot demand

In the last Covid-19 update we had a look at aviation crises from recent history to find out how long it took to recover.

In today’s article we take a look into the future to guess what will change in our market after Covid-19 is over.

We will discuss probable changes in the pilot training market, pilot jobs and assessment, and airlines and travelling in general.

Article summary:

Flight schools and pilot training:

  • Pilot training will become cheaper
  • No waiting time to enrol on courses
  • Expansion of online teaching
  • Virtual open days
  • ATPL exams from home (?)

Pilot jobs and assessment:

  • Fewer jobs available
  • Worse contract for pilots
  • Holding pools to be created
  • Fewer partnerships
  • More difficult to pass assessment

Airlines and travelling:

  • Fewer airlines in the market
  • Boost for low-cost airlines
  • Adjusted seating (temporary)
  • Discounts on flight tickets (temporary)

Flight schools and pilot training market

Pilot training may get a bit cheaper, so flight schools will attract customers in times of a damaged market. This may seem beneficial for aspiring pilots, but it’s a high price to pay for the difficulties graduate cadets will have in landing their first job.

Flight schools will have more capacity to train pilots, so there will be no waiting time to enrol on the courses. In pre-Covid times it wasn’t uncommon to wait as much as one year to get a flight training slot with a high quality ATO (for example, this was the case with Bartolini Air).

Many flight schools have already launched ATPL webinars and started to teach online. However, there is still a requirement to complete at least 10% of theory in classes (in the case of distance learning). This requirement may be eased in the future, so it may be possible to study ATPL completely from your home. It’s quite common in other industries that people are trained at home, with full interaction with an instructor via video conference calls.

Some schools have also introduced online virtual visits. The tours are done with the chance to ask questions, so it’s basically a complete open day done online.

There have been considerations that the UK CAA and some other authorities under EASA may approve the sitting of ATPL exams online from home during the crisis. This doesn’t seem to be happening for now but may be considered again in the future (post Covid-19).

Pilot jobs and assessments

Some of the upcoming changes in the pilot jobs market are obvious, such as the fact that there will be fewer jobs available in the market, globally. The 500 flight hours rule will come into place again (meaning if you have fewer than 500 hours, it’s difficult to get a job).

Airlines will offer worse contracts and with fewer jobs in the market, pilots will be more willing to accept them.

Flight schools with established partnerships with airlines won’t be able to provide jobs for all their cadets, so holding pools will be created. A holding pool is basically a standby list to wait until it’s your turn to pick up a job.

There will be fewer new partnerships between flight schools and airlines and only the biggest training organisations will have the power to establish them.

Airline pilot assessment will be much more difficult to pass because airlines will have many candidates to choose from. It will also get more difficult to be actually invited for the interview.

Airlines and travelling

Some airlines may be lucky enough to get government financial support to survive, but many others will go bankrupt. According to the IATA survey, over 70% of airlines have only 3 months of cash-cover. So in the end, there will be fewer airlines in the market, the smaller ones will disappear and bigger ones strong enough to survive will gain a bigger market share. Among airlines that will probably survive are Ryanair, Wizz Air, easyJet, Aer Lingus and British Airways.

It is expected that people will travel less for business purposes. Meetings in person will be replaced with conference calls, virtual meetings or other means of communication. This is something which is already happening. This will negatively affect traditional airlines and boost low-cost airlines, which are primarily used for leisure travel.

Some airlines have already stated that they will be reducing the number of seats per plane to seat passengers far from each other. The intention is to stop the spread of a virus if someone onboard is infected. It will probably cost airlines nothing as there will be fewer passengers travelling anyway. These measures will only be temporary.

The first months after the government travel restrictions are eased, airlines will offer massive discounts to encourage people to travel.

What do you think? What other changes can you see occurring after Covid-19 is over? Leave us a comment!

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