What airlines look for when recruiting flight crew
Despite the current shortage of commercial pilots, the job market is still highly competitive. Since it is a very responsible job, candidates need to strictly fit the requirements, but even more than that, they need to fit into the company’s culture so that both they and the employer are satisfied and can have a long-term partnership. “Being a pilot requires a certain set of skills that are not only technical, but also personal”, says Laura Macutkevic, HR Manager of Avion Express, the largest narrow-body ACMI provider in the world. “It goes without saying, that candidates are required to hold the minimum requirements as detailed in our job descriptions. We always ask to read job posting thoroughly, specifically experience, documentation, and residence requirements, before applying. But we also look to keep our flexible and open-minded company culture based on ownership and unity. It means that when we invite a candidate for an interview, we invite them to our home, so we are looking for the team members that will stay with us for a long time”.
During the application process, each candidate is evaluated to see if they possess the required set of skills, such as experience, technical knowledge test, English comprehension, but personality is just as important. Avion Express keeps increasing its fleet and production results, which naturally requires more human resources. Despite the substantial growth, the company maintains constant close communication with its team members even if they are not physically present in the headquarters. “To us, our crew members are not just a unique code in the system. Although they are all based in different countries, they are a valuable part of our team. We keep in touch with them constantly by organizing base visits and crew forums, engaging them in our internal monthly newsletter, inviting to our headquarters, because we work towards one goal as one mechanism”, explains Laura.
Avion Express values flexible pilots who strive to gain truly versatile experience. As an ACMI provider, Avion Express operates on behalf of other airlines, which means it depends on its clients’ seasonal needs. The airline has operated in Europe, South America, Asia-Pacific, the Caribbean. Such nature of business provides plenty of flexibility to the company and its crew, both when it comes to bases and routes. As the company expands, it opens new markets and possibilities for the pilots. Flexible approach appeals to experienced pilots who don’t fall into the same routine and can change routes and bases every now and then, as well as newly qualified pilots – cadets of Avion Express Cadet Programme, who are willing to gain experience in various conditions and markets. Other than the competitive commuting roster pattern, flight crew gets an appealing benefit package that includes pilot loss of license and travel insurance, provided accommodation and covered travel costs.
As the aviation industry changes, pilots need to be willing to adapt and upgrade their skills accordingly. One of the greatest changes nowadays is the shift to digital, so digital literacy is what Avion Express is looking for in the candidates. Cockpits are being integrated with Electronic Flight Bag that replaces heavy paper manuals and ensures a far more effective flight planning and logging. Although Avion Express flight crew undergoes special trainings, it is important that pilots themselves are open to learn and improve.
Laura says that unity is important not only between the company and its team, but among the team members as well. “We are proud of our flight crew, and we also want them to be proud of their job”, says Laura. “It is always nice to see how pilots with different backgrounds build a caring community of professionals who are passionate about what they do and the company they work for”. At the beginning of the year, Avion Express introduced the Referral Programme that encourages the team members to recommend eligible candidates to join the company. Since its introduction, over 60 pilots have applied, 20 of whom have already joined the company. The Referral Programme is beneficial as it ensures that those who apply are already familiar with the company and are ready to take up a new challenge with Avion Express. “The word-of-mouth is a powerful tool. We trust our crew members, and we believe that recruiting pilots through the Referral Programme is a good way to make sure that the candidates will most likely fit into our culture and enjoy being a part of our team”, continues Laura.
Avion Express is the largest narrow-body ACMI provider in the world operating 18 Airbus A320 family aircraft. The airline with over 10 years of experience has established a long-term partnership with Thomas Cook Airlines, a major UK leisure operator, and its subsidiary company Condor, as well as SunExpress, a joint venture of Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines. The list of Avion Express clients also includes WOW Air, Sky Angkor Airlines, SKY Airline, Vueling, Norwegian, and others.
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