Talent gap in aviation: Coping with exploding passenger numbers

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Passenger numbers in Asia are expected to triple by 2030. An estimated of 226,000 pilots will be needed in the next 20 years, however currently only half of this demand can be fulfilled. Here is what AirAsia India, Cebu Pacific, Garuda Indonesia and Myanmar National Airlines are doing to plan for these future talent challenges.

Airlines are looking to partner with more aviation schools which can train potential talents exactly to the specifications that the airline requires.  Cebu Pacific has taken it a step further and launched their own school, which helps them to attract not only local but also foreign talent. This also helps them to ensure the quality of training provided. As pointed out by Garuda Indonesia, the quality of pilot training schools is not always up to standards posing a challenge in acquiring quality talents.

The need for highly qualified pilots in Asia is growing tremendously. Another avenue of acquiring talent is looking beyond the local market, such as Europe, where airlines are prone to redundancies. With attractive living costs in Asia, airlines are able to offer a high-quality lifestyle for potential talent from all around the world.

Another issue is retaining talent. According to Myanmar National Airlines, money is not everything in this situation. Airlines find that providing commutable rosters, attractive vacation leave and travel benefits can help to retain staff. Progression, empowerments, cross-training, training by foreign specialists as well as exciting projects are very useful when trying to retain younger generation. Job rotation also allows staff to learn more about each part of the business and choose the right career paths within the company.  

Company culture is another important factor for fast growing companies. Acquiring a lot of new staff provides challenges in staying true to your companies culture and values. Cebu Pacific puts emphasis on hiring talent that fits in with the existing culture. They suggest that it is better to dismiss the candidate and move to the next one of the fit does not feel right rather than having to adjust the culture and values accordingly.

What are the main challenges that you are facing in acquiring and retaining talent in aviation? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

We’ll be addressing this key issue and more again at next year’s Aviation Festival Asia 2017 in Singapore on 21-22 February.

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