India’s pilot crunch is driving airline challenges in meeting growing middle-class air travel demands. Similar to other countries in the region, aggressive bidding for pilot resources is impacting revenue opportunities. Somewhat related, a recent Avi8ion blog on Emirates Airlines reveals similar challenges there. However, the Gulf carrier remains a key destination for ex-pat Indian pilots.
Indian Government Steps In
As indicated in this article, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) recently imposed a one-year waiting period for departing pilots. Applicable to the country’s captains, the purpose of this regulation is to protect the domestic airline market. Unsurprisingly, Indian airline unions are pushing back hard against this regulation in an attempt to overturn this regulation.
Similar to other Asian regions, India’s pilot needs are continuing to grow. For example, the government of India projects the need for 7,000 new pilots in the next five years. Amid this environment, Chinese airlines continue to aggressively recruit ex-pat pilots with industry leading compensation. Thus, the ground in Asia is shifting. Business models are now being impacted throughout the region and CFOs are busy at crafting new strategies to fill sorely-needed flight crew positions.
India Attempting to Woo Back Pilots
With record deliveries heading to India, particularly single-aisle aircraft for domestic operations, India is not standing still. As detailed in this report, Indian airlines are now aggressively attempting to woo back pilots to meet domestic needs. What might be described as a “come back home” campaign, results thus far are mixed. Regardless of these efforts, India’s middle class will continue growing for the foreseeable future. With this in mind, stand by for newer and more innovative efforts to ensure the country’s pilot supply is able to meet this demand.
To view more articles on pilot shortages in other regions, please select this link.
Tom Miller of Gavekal Research authored an August article titled, “Why Indian Tourists Are The New Chinese.” Mr. Miller points out that 25 millions traveled abroad in 2017 to a broad range of destinations. While these amounts don’t yet equal those of China, Mr. Miller opines that over time, this calculus will inevitably change. In terms of air travel, he points out that it is currently cheaper for Indians to travel overseas than within India itself. The booming India middle class will drive fundamental and unalterable changes in air travel demand in South Asia.