BALPA, the trade union for pilots in the UK, has issued an extraordinary warning to anyone who is thinking about embarking on a pilot training course – “think again”.
The union has taken the step to help avoid students paying upwards of £100,000 for training only to find there are no jobs available at the end.
Wendy Pursey, head of membership and careers services at BALPA said: “There are currently 10,000 unemployed commercial pilots across Europe including 1,600 pilots in the UK.
“Many pilots are working part time or on reduced pay to save jobs.
“And there are already around 200 trainees in flight training schools who were on a path to jobs with easyJet who now have no clear route to even a licence, far less a job.”
She added: “This is not a positive picture for anyone whose heart is set on entering this profession.
“There will be fewer jobs, with more people competing for each one even once this pandemic is over.
“In this situation it would be irresponsible if we did anything other than warn people to consider delaying their flight training at this time.”
Last year pilots were negotiating record salaries as a shortage of trained professionals created competition among airlines.
However, the situation has been completely reversed this year, with thousands of job losses following the Covid-19 shutdown.
Pursey added: “We urge potential pilots to get experience in another profession first which will postpone any training until the industry is in a more robust shape, provide additional skills and experience and also give them another avenue to fall back on.
“For anyone that still wants to proceed they should consider the modular training route which does provide the opportunity to learn and work in other fields.”
Of course, a shortage of freshly trained pilots could help push up wages of those already in the sector, should demand return.