RAAA concern for senior pilot shortage?

Via the Oz yesterday: 

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Too much room at top


As a global pilot shortage intensifies, Australian airlines are investing in aviation training to limit the drain of local experience and flight cancellations.

As the latest wave of global pilot shortages intensifies, Australian airlines are investing in aviation training to curb the drain of local experience and flight cancellations that have plagued domestic air travel over recently.

Scarcity of senior pilots in the past two years has in part been driven by new airlines and routes popping up, particularly in Asia and the Middle East, to respond to growing demand for international air travel, with the appetite for experienced foreign aviators such as Australia’s difficult to fill.

With a positive image for local pilots generated by well-respected airlines, training schools and Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority regulator, the surge in demand from new foreign airlines for well-trained fliers has particularly hit the Australian industry.

Attractive salaries, sometimes more than double the $280,000 that top Australian carriers pay, together with lower income-tax rates, are among the factors luring senior pilots from Qantas and Virgin to overseas, with those airlines themselves then looking to regional carriers and even flight-school educators to fill their cockpits.

“Whenever international airlines, particularly in Asia, recruit there’s an uptake of senior Australian pilots,” says Mike Higgins, president of the Regional Aviation Association of Australia.

While Higgins says pilot shortages are cyclic and are expected in the industry about every six years, the current shortage is more severe because “a number of international airlines have had an increase in their business operations”.

“Basically every pilot wants to fly bigger and bigger aircraft as it’s a rise in their career. The bigger the plane, the more seats and passengers, and the more money they can earn.”

Higgins says pilots moving ­between airlines at the same time is also more noticeable during the transition period, as commercial pilots — who only ever fly one particular model of plane during each phase of their career — must retrain for the larger aircraft they’re moving into in their new jobs.

One of the RAAA’s 34 member-airlines, Regional Express (Rex) last year said it was reducing the frequency of some its regional routes because of a pilot shortage.

The airline has also experienced more flight cancellations since the pilot shortage began, ­rising from 0.3 per cent of its flights in the year 2014-15 to 1.3 per cent in 2017-18. In December 2018, the cancellation rate was 1.5 per cent.

In an open letter last year in July, Rex chief operating officer Neville Howell wrote that pilot shortages meant “any last-minute sick leave may result in flights being cancelled or combined with other routes”.

He also said that regional aviation was the hardest hit by the global shortage, and accused Qantas and Virgin of “rapacious plundering” of Rex’s pilot pool

Howell also urged other major airlines to proactively invest in pilot-training initiatives, mentioning the $35 million Rex has spent on its pilot academy.

Last September, Qantas announced that Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport west of Brisbane would be the location for one of two planned regional facilities to train up to 500 pilots per year. But the facilities will not just train local pilots, because the airline sees its investment in pilot training as a potential revenue raiser.

“We will not need 500 pilots a year, so a significant amount of them will be for other airlines and overseas training, and we know that Australia does well in academia in that space,” Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said at the announcement for the Toowoomba facility.

“You ask all the universities — they make decent money on foreign students and we’re not going to be any different,” Joyce said.

While there are about 30,000 ­licensed pilots in Australia, the president of the Australian and International Pilots Association, Mark Sedgwick, says the number of pilot licence-holders has been somewhat steady over the past five years.

Those numbers may need to ­increase, with Boeing last year predicting the world will need 790,000 new pilots in the next 20 years to cope with rapidly growing numbers of air passengers.

That growth — estimated to double to eight billion passengers annually — will largely comprise middle-class travellers from developing nations.

In Australia, the majority of pilot training takes place at metropolitan airports — all of which were privatised between 1998 and 2003 — and these facilities rely heavily on foreign students.

At Melbourne’s suburban Moorabbin Airport, in which the Chinese government owns a 10 per cent stake, 18 flight training schools operate, with the majority of the roughly 30 per cent of foreign students from China.

At Jandakot Airport in Perth, China Southern Airlines operates a flight school, with interest in the airport from other Asian operators. The issue of foreign-owned flight schools was raised at a recent public hearing of the Senate committee for rural and regional affairs and transport.

Lee Schofield, managing director of Alliance Airlines, a fly-in, fly-out charter operator, says increased regulation and foreign schools have made it harder to increase local pilot graduates.

“In the pilot-training area, it's been an absolute disaster. There's a lot fewer pilot-training centres in Australia than there used to be,’’ Schofield says.

“Most of them are foreign-owned and only train pilots for their own operations, so the number of training establishments has shrunk considerably.”

However, flight schools are also suffering from the current pilot shortage, with the RAAA’s Higgins telling The Australian that supposed ‘‘poaching’’ from larger airlines can mean there are not enough aviation educators for training facilities.

“There are enough pilots out there for the bigger airlines’ demand, [but] there aren’t enough senior pilots to train and mentor the next generation,” he says.

A CASA spokesman says air travel growth in Asia has been a boon for training in Australia.

“[Training students from Asia] is pretty much all they do at ­regional flight centres. The students are coming in and doing training, and go straight back. They never actually show up in our airlines,” he says.

CASA says despite pilots rising to more senior roles earlier in their careers, safety requirements have not been lowered to allow less experienced pilots to fly larger aircraft. “There’s no evidence of any safety complications. Obviously pilot experience is important, but pilots can build up hours in smaller aircraft,” the spokesman says.

MTF...P2  Tongue

From that man 'Iggins, via the Oz:

Quote:AUGUST  27, 2019.

Subsidies put remote towns on flight path


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Some of the most remote and drought-ravaged towns in northwestern NSW will soon have regular air services restored for the first time in more than a decade.

Among other benefits, the move will get better access to medical services for those in remote communities, where health workers say depression is a rising problem as a collapse in agricultural production hits local economies.

Local councils are hoping the restoration of air services to Sydney will also encourage a boost in tourism in some iconic outback towns.

Minister for Western NSW Adam Marshall on Tuesday announced a deal in which the state government will subsidise thecost of air tickets to make it profitable for FlyPelican and Airlink to operate 26 new services each week, linking Bourke, Cobar, Walgett and Lightning Ridge to Dubbo, and Cobar to Sydney.

The NSW Government provided $8 million to ensure routes remain sustainable, Mr Marshall said, and they will start next month.

“It’s been 12 long years since passenger flights last touched down in Walgett and Bourke, which is far too long,” Mr Marshall said.

“Better access to air services means improved opportunities for people to travel to other parts of the state to be with loved ones and access jobs, education and healthcare.”

Dr Sanjay Jamwal, one of two general practitioners at the Cobar Primary Health Centre, said the resumption of flights wouldmake a significant difference to his patients, who could travel to Sydney or Dubbo for specialist treatment by air, or betreated in Cobar by visiting specialists who could fly in for the day.

Dr Jamwal said he had observed an increase in emotional and mental stress in his patients as the drought intensified.

“With any economic downturn or depression, it brings a push towards mental disorder,” Dr Jamwal told The Australian.

“At least you can do something to take off a bit of pressure from travelling for medical services,” he said.

The initiative will restore direct flights from Sydney to Cobar, and also from Dubbo to Cobar, and links from Dubbo to the other towns.

At present, to get to Sydney from Cobar requires a four-hour drive to Dubbo to get on a one hour flight.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro spoke of tourism potential.

“If you are sitting in Sydney making plans for the weekend, there is nothing stopping you from getting on a plane and exploring Outback NSW,” Mr Barilaro said.

“These air services will carry over 14,000 seats a year to the Far West meaning tourists can roam the opal fields in Lightening Ridge, have lunch at the Port of Bourke Hotel on the Darling River or visit the historic mining town of Cobar, in a matterof hours.”

FlyPelican will operate from its fleet of Jetstream 32 aircraft, seating up to 19 passengers and two pilots for round tripsbetween Cobar and Dubbo, and Cobar and Sydney.

Air Link services will fly seven-passenger seat Chieftain aircraft on round trips between Dubbo and Bourke, Dubbo and Walgett, and Walgett and Lightning Ridge.
MTF...P2  Tongue

Aint it passing strange?

Forty years ago there were "Commuter" aircraft operating profit making air services all over the place in NSW.
As time went by they all disappeared, suffocated by over-regulation.

Now we see politically, well golly gee, we really do need to have air services after all, connecting the bush to the cities.

The solution? instead of reforming our regulations and cutting red tape, we subsidise, by creating another monopoly to suck up taxpayer dollars like a Dyson value cleaner.

In affect all the "subsidies" do is cover the costs imposed by un-alected, unaccountable bureaucrats.

Wonder how many Aldi plastic bags that took?

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