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Over 50% of global pilots not currently flying: survey

written by Hannah Dowling | January 29, 2021

British Airways pilots pictured in the flight deck of an Airbus A350 (Source: Airbus).

More than half of the world’s pilots are not currently active and flying amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, while those who remain working feel less valued by their employers, a survey has found.

A survey of nearly 2,600 pilots around the world, conducted by GOOSE Recruitment and FlightGlobal, found that only 43 per cent of respondents were currently doing the job they had been trained for.

Meanwhile, 30 per cent of respondents stated they were unemployed, 17 per cent said they were furloughed or stood down, while 10 per cent were currently working however in non-flying roles.

Notably, 84 per cent of the unemployed pilots taking part in the survey said they were unemployed due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to the pandemic, there was a widespread pilot shortage, particularly in the US, which had driven up pay and conditions.

However, now, 82 per cent of unemployed pilots said they would be willing to accept a pay cut in order to take a new work opportunity, according to the survey.

The theme appears common, with many pilots currently still flying being forced into poorer conditions and packages.


For example, World of Aviation reported last year that Cathay Pacific had forced its pilots into signing new contracts on poorer terms, or risk being fired.

“We can see the effect the pandemic has had on employed pilots too,” GOOSE Recruitment chief executive and founder Mark Charman said in a statement.

“Large numbers are feeling insecure about their jobs, an increased number are planning to look for new roles this year as well as many feeling less valued by their employers.”

Concerningly, 40 per cent of all pilots in the survey noted their mental health had taken a hit during the pandemic, with the figure more prominent in younger pilots.

“The amount of stress and anxiety the pandemic has caused me has permanently scarred my outlook on life,” one surveyed pilot said.

Meanwhile, pilots still employed in Europe reported being the most stressed by COVID-19, with common stressors including the risk of catching the virus, disjointed rules surrounding border closures, and the uncertainty surrounding quarantine requirements for crew.


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