UK risks shortage of commercial pilots

Hotel News - 04/11/2010

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The high cost of training could lead to a shortage of pilots in the UK. The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) says decreasing numbers of people are learning to pilot commercial aircraft.

In the past, airlines would sponsor the training of young pilots. However, young people aspiring to careers as commercial pilots are today expected to fund the cost of their training and the bill can total as much as £100,000.

It was only about 10 years ago that airlines commonly sponsored cadets seeking to join the industry. Increasing cost pressures led to this gradually being phased out. British Airways was the last carrier in the UK to support pilot training in this way. BA ended this following the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001.

Some airlines continued to cover the cost of being licensed for different types of commercial aircraft. However, even this has now ended and pilots now face fees as high as £25,000 to be qualified for particular planes. The average annual salary for commercial pilots is around £60,000. Salaries range from as much as £110,000 for pilots on Boeing 747s to as little as £25,000 for those behind the controls of small planes.

BALPA says a number of aspiring pilots told it the cost of training had deterred them from joining the industry. Flying schools also say the numbers of applications are down. However, the British Air Transport Association says it is unaware of any UK airlines suffering any problems recruiting pilots.

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