After A Bleak Winter, Summer Provides Opportunities For Pilot Careers

After A Bleak Winter, Summer Provides Opportunities For Pilots And Airlines

During the winter, bankruptcies and staff lay-offs have shaken up the aviation industry, especially in Europe. Rising fuel costs, the growth of passenger numbers slowing and thin profit margins were many of the factors that put a strain on the bank balances of airlines in Europe, especially on the small and medium-sized carriers.

Brexit also provided an issue – the uncertainty has shifted the choices of travelers, especially in Britain – holidays are spent in destinations that do not require getting in on an aircraft.

While stranded passengers get offered discounts on flights in order to reach their destination, employees of a bankrupt airline do get stranded. However, after a storm, there‘s always a ray of bright sunshine. As one chapter of a pilot‘s career closes, a new one opens.

Nevertheless, compared to last year, the tendencies of pilot recruitment have changed. Both for the pilots, who are looking for a job and for the airlines, determined to fill their cockpits with new people.

Small players opened up an opportunity to the big boys

There is no denying that the recent collapse of several airlines in Europe, namely Germania or FlyBMI doesn‘t carry the same impact as a hypothetical bankruptcy of Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) or British Airways.

But when airlines such as Germania or FlyBMI do declare bankruptcy, it provides an opportunity for the big carriers in the continent.

The most common issue within the aviation industry is the fact that airlines are struggling to fill the seat of a captain or a first officer on a flight. As passenger numbers increase, airlines have to keep up with the demand to sustain their business.

So, when smaller airlines do go bust, the open pilot pool fills with new talent. For example, Ryanair used the FlyBMI bankruptcy as an opportunity to offer pilots a new career opportunity with a video from Peter Bellew’s, the Chief Operations Officer of the company, Twitter account.


Pilot Career Show events that are organized on a short-notice also provide opportunities for pilots and airlines to recruit new people. For instance, when WOW Air declared bankruptcy, more than 1000 people lost their jobs, including pilots. But a rapid set-up roadshow event with multiple airline representatives in Reykjavik soothed the situation out.

An airline bankruptcy doesn’t signal the end of a pilot’s career.

However, you never should sleep on the fact that you’re not the only one aiming for the glorious pilot spot at the prestigious airlines. As more airlines go bust, more talent is available to the big carriers. As a result, they might get picky and aim for the perfect candidates.

But for a pilot, the most important thing after losing a job are the following three words:

Last Flight Date.

If the last time you flew when you’re applying for a job was a couple of years ago, tough luck – airlines will simply reject you because of that fact.

Thus, while you’re exploring new horizons while flying, it’s crucial that you do that when you’re looking for a job as well.

New horizons in Asia

Europe is and always was a hotspot for pilots that are looking for a job. Great career opportunities with attractive salary packages have always lured more pilots to Europe.

Yet that is changing.

There is no denying that the aviation industry in Asia, including the Middle East, is growing at an unprecedented rate. As economies grow in China, India and other parts of the continent, more people are able to afford to travel with an aircraft.

Let’s take China for example. In 1990, according to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, there were 114 international and 1346 domestic airline routes.

In 2017, the numbers have skyrocketed to 5545 international and 49611 domestic routes. Passenger numbers have also grown massively – from 16.6 million in 1990 to 515 million in 2017.

To sustain such massive growth, airlines first and foremost have to have the aircraft and flight crews to serve customers.

China Southern Airlines is one of the fastest growing operators in the world

According to Airbus’ order and delivery data, as of May 2019 European airlines have ordered 3792 Airbus aircraft. In contrast, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East regions have ordered 6164 Airbus’ in total.

In addition, Airbus predicts that the Asia-Pacific market will need 219 040 new pilots by 2037. The Middle East? 56 570.

Airlines, especially in China, desperately need new pilots. Not only do they invest in flight schools all over the world, but they also lure pilots from established brands by offering great paychecks and benefits. Looking at the jobs available for Non-type rated Captains and First officers at, most of them are located in Asia-Pacific.

There is no secret that the growth of tourism has a massive impact on these numbers.

As summer operations ramp up at airlines, when more people are flying to their holiday destinations, summer opportunities for pilots also open up.

During the warm months of the year, ACMI becomes a very hot acronym in the industry.

ACMI and a pilot‘s career

In order to avoid buying aircraft that airlines won‘t need on a permanent basis after the summer travel craze, carriers turn to ACMI and Charter airlines that provide aircraft leasing.

The benefits of ACMI operations are obvious to airlines, as they do not buy aircraft upfront and can cover their operations for a short period of time, do not deal with the long recruitment process and don‘t have to worry about maintenance.

But what about pilots?

Firstly, as I mentioned above, Last Flight Date is very important when you‘re looking for a new pilot career opportunity. Moreover, ACMI and Charter operators offer pilots contracts for the summer.

As a result, you will update your last flight date to become very recent and if by the end of summer your contract runs out, you are still in a great position to increase your chances of getting a job at another airline afterward.

Secondly, ACMI operators can offer pilots permanent positions. It’s almost like a summer internship for students, except you get paid and you get to keep your piloting skills in check, even get a job offer.

ACMI Airline Operated Airbus A320 in Malta

Additionally, these airlines do not exclusively operate in the summer, they fly throughout the year. Differently to regular airlines, ACMI operators can offer something exciting – different locations that you can explore while working as a pilot because their route structure fluctuates based on their clients.

Proactive instead of reactive

All in all, the number one tip for pilots to survive the bankruptcy of an airline is to stay proactive and stay up-to-date with the latest news and trends in airlines, including their own employer.

Of course, you have to do so without crossing the line, as your loyalty to your job is as important as your skills as a pilot.

Explore new horizons, regions and airline employment prospects. Remember that after a dark winter, the summer’s sun will shine brightly.

And if you’re struggling to find a job as a pilot, you can contact us right here and we will help you out as much as we can.

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