Shortage of Pilots in India

Issue: 02-2019

As per a report in the media in February this year, cancellation of over 30 flights by IndiGo has bought to the fore the growing shortage of pilots, especially when practically all airlines are embarked on fleet expansion. According to industry estimates, over 100 new airliners will be added in the next 12 months, a bulk of which will be inducted by IndiGo alone. The leading budget carrier IndiGo is currently adding nine aircraft every month. To meet with the requirement generated by fleet expansion, around 1,500-2,000 additional pilots will be required by 2019 to fly the new aircraft and tide over the existing crisis of pilot shortage. Despite more flights in operation, the number of additional commanders being recruited is slowing down. Aviation industry estimates the number of additional commanders recruited by carriers fell by around ten per cent in 2017-18 over 2016-17. This was despite domestic carriers scrambling for more expatriates to make up for the dwindling pool of qualified homegrown commanders. According to a report by CAPA, the country has over 7,963 pilots and will require an additional 17,000 pilots in the next ten years, of which 9,000 first officers will be upgraded to commanders. The shortage is not just a local malaise. There is a global demand for pilots especially in China and with West Asian airlines such as Emirates and Qatar that are struggling to cope with the increasing demand for pilots. China itself requires over 5,000 pilots a year to fly its burgeoning fleet.