Excess of pilots in Russia leads to unemployment

By the end of 2016 there will be more than 3600 unemployed pilots in Russia By the end of 2016 there will be more than 3600 unemployed pilots in Russia (Photo by Fyodor Borisov / Transport-photo.com)

An excess of pilots is becoming obvious in Russia, as flight schools have been increasing the annual number of pilot graduates, airlines have been cutting their capacities and staff or closing down altogether, according to an Aviapersonal agency presentation delivered at the recent Aviation Professionals 2016 Conference.

The number of pilot graduates from flight schools has been increasing in recent years, from 330 in 2010 to 689 in 2014 and 946 in 2015. By 2019, the number is expected to reach 1,040 people. Along with that, the number of airlines that operate on the Russian market in 2016 is the same as in 2014: 113, against 119 in 2015.

There are three flight colleges that are eligible to provide professional aviation-related education in Russia, located in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Ulyanovsk. According to the Ministry of Education and Science, the rate of employment among graduates of all is quite high, ranging from 99.7 to 98.5%. However, employment rate among pilot graduates is lower. Out of 1,082 pilots that graduated from flight schools in 2012 and 2013, 764 found jobs (70.6%), in 2014 it was 224 out of 689 respectively (32.5%).

According Aviapersonal, at the end of 2015, 3,123 pilots were unemployed, and by the end of 2016 the number will exceed 3,600 pilots. The situation in this market segment is not expected to improve before the end 2019.

In 2015, the level of flight crew salaries decreased for the first time since 2009. However, the average level of income in Russian commercial aviation remains significantly higher that in other industries (over 367,000 rubles in average for a captain, against 32,000 rubles on average for other professionals), even other transport industries.

To level out the labor market situation it’s important to analyze the needs of employers, regulate the number of future pilots, and make more careful forecasts of market needs, Aviapersonal believes.

Earlier, the agency stated that at the beginning of the year about 35% of unemployed aviation personnel were pilots: captains and first officers. Another 15 % were technicians and engineers. Unconfirmed data showed that around 13,000 aviation specialists are currently unemployed, including those that were previously employed by Transaero, Russia’s second largest carrier, which left the market last year.


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