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Extra low cost airways, fewer pilots out there

With their promise of cheaper fares and no pointless frills, a wave of so-called “low cost airways” have burst onto the Canadian scene lately.


However consultants say the low-cost airline mannequin is exacerbating a pilot scarcity that already exists and will turn out to be a good greater downside for Canada’s aviation business in years to return.

Startup low cost airways, like Edmonton-based Aptitude Airways, Calgary-based Lynx, and WestJet subsidiary Swoop, have grown quickly throughout Canada because the COVID-19 pandemic, taking part in on the truth that ‘there may be sufficient demand to assist further capability.

Though every entity operates barely in a different way, the essential premise of a low-cost airline is that vacationers obtain decreased service in alternate for low base fares. Carry-on and checked baggage, snacks and drinks, and cancellation safety are all thought of extras and should be paid for individually.

Nonetheless, consultants say the speedy proliferation of recent flights and routes is placing stress on the aviation job market, together with for pilots.

“If I’ve a brand new airline beginning with 10 planes, theoretically I want about 200 pilots,” mentioned Mike Doiron, president of Doiron Aviation Consulting in Moncton, New Brunswick.

“And coaching new pilots would not occur in a single day, regardless that the demand for pilots has skyrocketed,” he mentioned.

A pilot scarcity has been brewing in Canada for years, as a consequence of quite a lot of elements, together with an getting old workforce, pandemic-related layoffs, early retirements and escalating coaching prices. Changing into an airline pilot can now value upwards of $100,000, discouraging some younger folks from coming into the occupation, consultants say.

Final week, vacation airline Sunwing attributed its spate of flight disruptions and cancellations over the vacation season partly to a scarcity of pilots, telling the Federal Transport Committee that the federal government’s choice to disclaim the request The airline’s current hiring of 63 non permanent overseas employees for pilot positions has impacted its capacity to offer service.

Tim Perry — president of the Canadian division of the Air Line Pilots Affiliation, the union that represents pilots at a number of Canadian airways, together with WestJet and Transat (however not Sunwing) — referred to as that argument “absurd.” He doesn’t imagine {that a} Canadian airline that adequately compensates its pilots ought to want to rent non permanent overseas employees.

Nonetheless, Mr. Perry acknowledges that there are actual labor challenges within the aviation business. He argues that flight colleges, significantly northern and regional airways, are having issue recruiting licensed pilots, partly as a result of new carriers are hiring pilots who in any other case would have gone to work with a few of these smaller airways. operators. He additionally factors out that low cost carriers do not pay in addition to Air Canada or WestJet, and that low-cost airways even have issue retaining prospects.

“These entry-level jobs (with low cost carriers) had been by no means profession locations. These airways due to this fact find yourself with the next coaching burden per unit of productive flight,” he defined.

Not one of the airways contacted by The Canadian Press was prepared to speak in regards to the present state of the pilot job market, nor was the Nationwide Airways Council of Canada.

A 2018 report by the Canadian Council for Aviation and Aerospace discovered {that a} third of air operators within the nation on the time cited pilots as their largest labor scarcity. The report says the necessity for skilled pilots is starting to outstrip the out there nationwide provide and predicts the business will want a further 7,300 pilots by 2025.

“There are solely perhaps 15,000 to twenty,000 pilots in the entire system proper now, in order that’s a reasonably large quantity,” Doiron mentioned.

He added that some smaller airways are reducing their hiring requirements — lowering the variety of flight hours they’d usually require a pilot, or contemplating candidates who do not have a school diploma — to be able to be aggressive within the labor market.

Whereas pilots will nonetheless want to fulfill the minimal coaching necessities set by Transport Canada, Mike Doiron believes a worsening pilot scarcity sooner or later will imply much less cockpit expertise. It might additionally result in a long-term improve within the variety of flight disruptions and flight cancellations skilled by vacationers as airways grapple with scheduling and labor points.

“The scarcity of certified and skilled personnel is basically going to place the entire business the wrong way up for some time,” mentioned the president of Doiron Aviation Consulting in Moncton, New Brunswick.

“I am glad I am not operating an airline proper now as a result of I might say it may be a tricky 5 to 10 years. »

Aptitude Airways, which has expanded to serve greater than 30 locations in Canada, the USA and Mexico, is among the many start-ups which have added capability because the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lynx says it’s going to supply 292 seats per week to and from the USA from Toronto and Calgary in February; and Canada Jetlines launched two weekly flights between Toronto and Calgary in September.

Toronto-based Porter Airways can be launching new routes and says it has ordered as much as 100 new plane, which can give it the power to function in Canada, the USA, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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