COVID-19 or the coronavirus has brought the whole world to a standstill killing millions of people globally. Many people have lost their jobs and all the major industries are crashing. Is this by far the worst pandemic in the entire history? As far as we know the aviation industry has been hit badly. Due to the reduced number of passengers and air travel, an estimated US$60 to 100 billion losses were faced by airlines all around the world.
HOW MANY PILOTS ARE JOBLESS RIGHT NOW?
“Agreement terminated”, “your services no longer required”, “your last salary may not be paid”. This is what thousands of airline staff received over the past few weeks & months. It’s heartbreaking when they have a family & have lots of commitments to bear. The COVID-19 crisis might have grounded most of the global airline industry, but the rights of atypically employed aircrew had no further to fall. This is to save the company from going into bankruptcy. Approximately 1 in every 5 pilots lost their job since the start of this pandemic in early March this year. Since many pilots have been retrenched, sooner or later the whole world will have a surplus of pilots. Besides, hundreds of cadet pilots are graduating from local flying schools every year. So is it the right time to enter flight training? Are you an aviation enthusiast who is ready financially and looking up for a flying school? Read Below
Well, even if you do all that you’re probably still scratching your head, locked-down up at home, wondering how to make your dream a reality amid this Covid-19 pandemic. Especially when some of the airlines on your vision board have gone bankrupt, and several of the pilots have been retrenched. Maybe you’re thinking of throwing in the towel before you’ve even gotten started.
The truth is, I don’t blame you. Even sometimes I wonder when I’ll be starting my line training. Whether it’s going to be anytime soon or in another 3-4 years. Before me, there are hundreds of pilots who are still on the waiting list to enter airlines to undergo their training. I’ve come across several reassurances that the aviation industry will pick up again. Why? Simply because this industry fluctuates with the economic cycle, will immediately be followed by years in which it’s possible to have a job lined up before you graduate. But that is taking into consideration that the vaccine will be rolled out soon and the airlines are not leasing out their fleets yet.
As a pilot, you’ll just have to get accustomed to riding these waves. It’s simply unfortunate that Covid-19 has taken this cycle to the extreme, and we find ourselves in an unprecedented situation in which travel bans have brought the industry to a standstill.
It usually takes at least 2 years to complete pilot training up to obtaining a Frozen ATPL. This means the economy has 2 years in which to pick up before you’re faced with searching for your first job as a low hour pilot. A lot will change in that time. I have witnessed several cadets withdrew during their early phases of flight training. To be honest current situation does not define the future and no one can ever predict what’s going to happen.
But things will change. Eventually, we will be allowed out of the house, then back into restaurants, and back into aircraft. The economy will pick up, airlines will expand once again to deal with the increased travel demand, and who will fly these aircraft? We will. Well, only if you continue as planned and dive into pilot training. If you are still young this is your only opportunity to enroll and get yourself started. The flight training fees will be going up every year and no way it will be brought down. Personally, I won’t be surprised if flight training costs would skyrocket to 600,000 MYR in the coming years. Flight training schools are not charity organizations. Lately, I have been seeing a lot of angst on social media. Much of it aimed at the unconscionably high cost of flying, and the unattainably high cost of training to earn a pilot’s license.
Remember there is no definite reason why flight training is expensive. There are various factor that actually determines the actual cost of the whole training. Some of the factors include the exchange rate, the type of airport where the training is conducted, accommodation, aircraft maintenance, fuel cost, instructors pay, hangar fees, landing fees, parking fees, insurances, equipment, and many more.
Okay back to our topic,
There’s another pressing question for future student pilots to consider: what about all the airlines and charter companies that have closed? How can you possibly find jobs if there are fewer companies to work for? When travel picks up again (even if it only increases back to the level it was at before Covid-19) it means that existing airlines and charter companies will expand to operate on the routes that become available due to airlines going bankrupt.
In the end, you might have fewer companies to choose from, but any expansion requires more pilots (which means more jobs). As well as many new airlines will launch to fill gaps in the market. More routes. more sectors and more pilots.
Because of COVID-19 don’t rush to graduate anytime sooner. Instead, you can take your time to study and understanding everything you need to before joining the airline. Why not take extra studies and complete it. It would aid you to progress once you enter the airline. This also carries through to the practical part of flight training. Join the flight operation department or the recruitment team which requires you to have certain qualifications.
So although things currently look grim, we can’t give up hope. Yes, there is much uncertainty about life after Covid-19, which makes it hard to speculate on what the outcome will be. This is the time for you to improve yourself and make changes.
I believe that the virus will leave a lasting mark on the industry – and what I have written is simply my opinion on the subject. Though, maybe it is time to update your vision board with different airlines and to include a few new inspiring quotes to keep you motivated on your journey that has suddenly become a winding road instead of the express route you had carefully planned out.
After all, a pilot needs to be able to adapt to change. So I’ll get you started with your first new motivational quote by Hellen Keller: ” When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”