Turkey’s air force faces shortage of pilots after coup attempt
In September of 2016, the Turkish air force asked its former pilots to fill in the ranks left vacant by the 350 pilots who had been purged after the failed coup attempt earlier in July.
The appeal was mostly fruitless, according to both air force representatives and former pilots. The rifts left by the unsuccessful coup in the Turkish military and governmental institutions will most likely require more time to fix.
The Turkish media has reported that only a small fraction of the several hundred airmen that left military ranks in the past five years and would be eligible to re-enlist have actually decided to return.
One of the main reasons for such a low interest is economic. Flying for a commercial airline provides better benefits than an air force wage, which averages at about 10,000 lira ($3,500) per month.
The Turkish government put the blame for the failed coup of July 15 on Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric. Purges followed in most governmental and military institutions, with the air force being no exception. Around 350 military pilots and 40 technicians have been laid off or arrested.