Turkey has urged local airlines to cut the jobs of foreign pilots and cabin crew before axing local employees, and encouraged longer term local employment in the sector.
The Turkish Directorate General of Civil Aviation, known locally as the SHGM, has reportedly written a letter to 10 operators, including flag-carrier Turkish Airlines, seeking their opinions on the matter.
According to the SHGM letter, expatriates make up 11 per cent of the workforce of Turkish carriers, following a period of strong foreign recruitment amid a travel boom.
The letter states that the authority hopes to reduce the proportion of foreign staff in the Turkish aviation sector, so that Turkish nationals are “no longer” at a disadvantage. It also states that the process should be a gradual one, with “minimal impact to current operations”.
Civil aviation authorities are not alone in pushing for less foreign employees in airlines. Local unions have increased government pressure to employ more Turkish staff in the sector, as the global pandemic pushes national unemployment levels close to 13 per cent.
“If needed, the recruitment of foreign staff should be reduced and that of our citizens, and their income, should be protected,” the Hava-Sen labour group, which represents 1,500 airline employees, told the SHGM earlier this year.
The union said the state has a “national duty to use our resources effectively and efficiently during the economic crisis”, and that “discrimination” toward Turkish citizens by EU nations should bolster that push.
The push comes as airlines around the world are forced to stand down or let go of vast amounts of their workforce, as international flight demand dissipates. Current estimates suggest flight demand will not return to pre-COVID levels until 2024.
Recipients of the SHGM letter include Pegasus Airlines, Turkey’s biggest low-cost carrier; SunExpress, the leisure venture between Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa AG; and cargo carrier MNG Airlines.