- This clamor for work is being reflected around the world, as desperate pilots who’ve been grounded by the pandemic for more than a year mob recruiters for the few new flying jobs on the market in a last-ditch effort to save their aviation careers.
- Wasinc International Ltd., which recruits overseas pilots for Chinese and Japanese airlines, is getting so many emails from out-of-work applicants that it no longer needs to advertise the roles it is trying to fill. Job applications from down-on-their-luck aviators, from Brazil and Mexico to Canada and Europe, have jumped at least 30-fold from pre-virus days, Wasinc CEO Dave Ross said in an interview from his home in Las Vegas.
- Aggressive waves of the fast-spreading delta variant also threaten to push back a travel recovery, which could bring more trouble to the industry as pilots leave for good to retire, look for other work or as their flying qualifications expire. That risks leaving a shortage of skilled operators in the cockpit whenever a firmer recovery takes hold.
- Many of the pilots on his books looking for work are approaching the end of their validity periods. With the outlook so bleak, some are opting to leave the industry altogether. “I don’t think we can avoid the fact that maybe in less than a year, there’s going to be a shortage,” he said.
- Ryanair Holdings Plc is also adding 2,000 pilots over the next three years to grab market share from weakened rivals. The low-cost airline needs pilots to fly the new Boeing 737 Max jets it began taking in June. Delta Air Lines Inc. plans to hire more than 1,000 pilots by next summer as domestic leisure travel returns.
- These bursts of activity aren’t enough to soak up the current excess of crew, according to Goose’s CEO and founder Charman. Even his company’s campaign that attracted a rush of applicants was put on ice due to “changes in our client’s business,” he said.
- It’s not just senior pilots with pensions and savings who are quitting now that jobs have dried up, Charman said. There are signs that career aspirations are dwindling for junior pilots too. “They’ve given up,” he said. “Our prediction is that, very quickly, we will have a real problem in the aviation sector.”
- The summer of major flight woes continues, leaving Spirit Airlines passengers the latest to be stranded.
- The Florida-based budget carrier canceled 277 flights Monday, or 36% of its scheduled flights, on top of 165 canceled flights Sunday, according to flight tracker FlightAware. Flight delays are also an issue, with 159 so far Monday and 342 on Sunday.
- Passengers reported waiting hours in line for refunds and other customer service help at airports in cities including Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Some stranded travelers camped out.
- “It looked like a hurricane shelter,” passenger Rebecca Osborn said of Spirit’s counters at Orlando International Airport.
- Spirit Airlines spokesman Erik Hofmeyer blamed the flight cancellations on weather and unspecified operational challenges.
- The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents Spirit’s flight attendants, said in a statement that the operational issues were due to weather and technology outages, among other issues.
- What it was not about, the union said: a worker strike, as some have speculated.
- “A few news outlets have incorrectly reported that this may be due to a strike. This is not true. There is no flight attendant strike. Crews are not the issue,” the union said.
- A year ago U.S. airlines were grappling with a pilot surplus. Now as travel demand snaps back more quickly than expected, they are rushing to fill hiring pipelines and woo youth to the industry, a change from the slow pace of recovery from previous crises.
- “If you had told me last year that I’d be in this event, that I’d have an avenue to get to United Airlines, I would have told you, you were crazy,” said John Pama, a 21-year old graduate of Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University.
- Pama was among 30 prospective young pilots United flew into Oshkosh on a brand-new 737 MAX brandishing the “Aviate” logo for its pilot recruitment program.
- The airline plans to hire 350 pilots this year, 1,500 by 2022 and 3,000 by 2023.
- Southwest Airlines filed a lawsuit against Skiplagged, a flight search engine, in a second legal challenge against flight-search sites that display the airline’s cheap flights.
- The airline said both Skiplagged and Kiwi.com broke its website’s terms by displaying ticket prices. It previously filed suit against Kiwi.com. Southwest said it only allows online travel agents to sell tickets for its flights with the airline’s permission.
- In its newest lawsuit, filed last week in US District Court, the airline said the two travel sites appeared to be working together. It said Skiplagged’s flight data came from Kiwi.com.
- “Neither Skiplagged nor Kiwi is authorized to display Southwest fares or sell Southwest flights,” the airline’s lawyers wrote in the complaint.
- “We cannot comment on the latest lawsuit itself, but what is appearing here is a sense of panic from Southwest,” a Kiwi.com spokesperson said. “Trying to hold back freedom of choice brought about through tech innovation with aggressive legal action is a sad situation from an airline that was a disruptor themselves.”
- “It is beyond dispute that Southwest routing information is widely available through multiple public-facing sources, which undermines [Southwest’s] Letter’s suggestion that Skiplagged is republishing confidential information,” wrote Skiplagged’s lawyer, Irwin B. Schwartz, of BLA Schwartz, in the final letter.
- Skiplagged earlier this month filed a pre-emptive lawsuit in New York, its home state, asking a judge to rule on whether it had broken Southwest’s terms.
- By filing its new lawsuit in Texas, Southwest moved to keep its legal fight against the flight-search engines in its home state. Southwest sued Kiwi.com in Texas earlier this year.