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US airlines luring Australian pilots adds to aviation worries

Published: in Australian News by .

There are concerns Australian pilots grounded under border closures are being recruited by US airlines – a development that could leave the domestic aviation industry with a shortage of key staff.

There are concerns Australian pilots grounded under border closures are being recruited by US airlines - a development that could leave the domestic aviation industry with a shortage of key staff.

At least two major American airlines are recruiting pilots in Australia as the US aviation sector bounces back from the pandemic.

Aviation careers coach Kirsty Ferguson told Nine.com.au that she had received 70 inquiries in the last two weeks from pilots considering a move to the US.

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She said the US airlines GoJet and SkyWest are currently holding interviews in Australia and she had received more than 70 inquiries from Australian pilots.

Ms Ferguson, chief executive of Pinstripe Solutions, said under the US government's E-3 visa scheme. Australian pilots with an offer of employment can live and work there. It initially lasts two years, but can be extended indefinitely.

A potential pilot shortage adds to concerns the Australian aviation sector recovery from COVID-19 is lagging other countries.

While flight levels have returned to 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels globally, Australia is seeing just 26 per cent of flights seen previously.

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Louise Pole, president of the Australian Federation of Air Pilots, told a Senate inquiry into the aviation sector that many of its 5500 members no longer hold current qualifications.

"Up to 25 per cent of our pilot members are no longer current and are without recent experience that is required to maintain their licences."

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Ms Pole said Australian airlines would have to retrain existing pilots to make up a shortfall.

"What will happen is that the demand will return and the airlines will be keen to be able to assist with that demand, but they won't be able to train fast enough," she said.

Murray Butt, president of the Australian and International Pilots Association told 4BC radio that aviation staff are considering their futures.

"We've certainly got pilots that are going to have to make decisions over the next six months whether they're coming back to the industry," Mr Butt said.

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Qantas planes on the tarmac at Sydney Airport.

Earlier this year, Boeing warned that if current trends continue, the global aviation industry will be short of 600,000 pilots by 2040.

Australian airlines have flagged a reopening of international flights beginning before Christmas.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says the carrier was ready to launch international flights once vaccination rates in Australia reach 80 per cent, due to happen in December.

The airline said the initial routes planned were for destinations with high COVID-19 vaccination rates, with flights to resume by mid-December 2021.

Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-international-travel-australia-risking-pilot-shortage-us-airlines-aviation-relaunch/6aed7157-6d95-48fd-be8d-722e0ab75792

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