Despite an unprecedented number of pilots currently being furloughed throughout the world and several airlines reporting losses or shutting down operations, industry experts agree a pilot shortage will still loom as the industry prepares for long-term air travel recovery from the pandemic.
More than 600,000 pilots will be needed in the next two decades.
“We were deep into a pilot shortage pre-Covid, meaning that the second a pilot was qualified, they were being hired by an airline,” said Kenneth Byrnes, associate dean and chairman of flight at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
While that’s no longer the case with the current state of the industry, experts and industry trade groups warn the pandemic has only put a pause on a shortage, that it hasn’t gone away with more pilots nearing the age of retirement and because of a continuing undersupply of new pilots.
Already during the first half of 2020, 50 percent of the pilot workforce was positioned to reach the mandatory stopping point — retirement — within 15 years, said Faye Malarkey Black, president and CEO of the Regional Airlines Association (RAA). Within the half of that workforce, 15 percent must retire in five years.
If you're considering being a pilot, it could be a great time to finish your studies.