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Pilots: career choice, training and wage pressure


Aviation has been in great difficulties since Corona - pilots are also feeling this. If you still want to turn your dream of flying into a job, you should take precautions.

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Some children dream of flying as a job

Photo: uchar / Getty Images

The artificial horizon is one of the most important instruments in the cockpit of an aircraft.

Even when a machine spins and you can no longer see through the window where up and down is: the artificial horizon shows it.

Such an attitude indicator, as the device is officially called, would be what some pilots would like for their future careers at the moment.

Because since Corona brought air traffic to a standstill, many female pilots no longer know where up and down is.

Many machines remained on the ground for months, because of international shutdowns, lockdowns and entry bans, only the most necessary flights were carried out.

Meanwhile, the flight business is picking up again, but the uncertainty remains because the next best virus mutant could set everything back again.

Many airlines are financially badly hit, which will be left after the crisis - let's see.

New hope for the industry?

Rather not

At such times, Lufthansa - saved with tax billions in the corona summer 2020 - puts a new subsidiary on the tarmac: Eurowings Discover is the name of the airline, and it is primarily intended to appeal to private vacationers.

"Aviation has always been and will always be a volatile industry."

Leila Belaasri, pilot and press officer for the cockpit pilots' association

So is there hope for the old dream job?

Will pilots soon be able to choose their employer again, as it has been for decades?

"Aviation has always been a volatile industry and will remain so," says Leila Belaasri, 36, herself a pilot with a large German airline and press spokeswoman for the cockpit pilots' association.

The recovery will certainly take some time, the international airline association IATA expects passenger numbers from 2023 that could even be higher than before Corona.

For the time being, however, the termination is as if in a nosedive: According to estimates by the European pilots' association EPA, since the outbreak of the pandemic, up to 18,000 of around 65,000 people on the continent will permanently lose their jobs.

Dual studies for more career options

The wave of layoffs follows the corona wave.

But the global pandemic is not the only problem: "In the past 25 years, the aviation industry has been shaped by medium-sized to large crises," says Belaasri.

That also means: Anyone who is toying with the profession today should be aware that the need for pilots can always fluctuate, and that applies worldwide.

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Cockpit spokeswoman Leila Belaasri

Photo: Sarah Kastner / Pilotenvereinigung Cockpit

But that shouldn't deter anyone who dreams of flying as a young person.

"I've been an enthusiastic pilot myself for 15 years," says Belaasri, "and even as a young woman I never wanted a job".

She would choose the profession again and again.

But she recommends all aviation enthusiasts today to position themselves more broadly.

In addition to the conventional pilot training at the flight school, one could, for example, complete an additional degree.

In this way one can bridge possible waiting times after the completed pilot training.

Even later, pilots will have more opportunities in the industry.

Dual courses of study combine training in the cockpit with additional specialist knowledge, for example in the dual transport pilot course.

With the bachelor's degree you can also apply for positions in administration and management of airlines and airports;

if you want, you can add a master's degree later.

A degree in aircraft engineering can also be combined with a pilot's license, or the business administration subject of aviation management.

If such a course is a good basis for common crises, the additional qualifications are of little use in the corona pandemic.

Because personnel is currently being cut in all departments in the industry, not just for the flying colleagues.

Cancel and apply for a new job cheaper

The main problem when starting your career: In many cases, you have to pay for your professional pilot training yourself.

In addition, the budding pilots have to dig deep into their pockets to learn how to use new aircraft models or to be able to demonstrate the necessary flight experience again and again - this is later also required of experienced pilots.

Those who start the job are therefore often heavily in debt and would prefer to quickly repay the training costs with the salary of a permanent position.

If you work for a discount airline, it can take a while.

The new Lufthansa offshoot Eurowings Discover is also criticized for comparatively meager salaries.

The annual salary for experienced pilots in salary level 3 is 20,000 euros lower than for the discontinued Lufthansa subsidiary Germanwings, namely 61,200 euros.

This was reported by "Merkur" - a Lufthansa spokeswoman replied that the conditions were "significantly better" than those of many competitors.

That certainly also depends on which competitor is used for comparison.

Commercial aircraft license as good as a forklift driver's license

The case illustrates the pressure on staff.

In the summer of 2020, Lufthansa closed SunExpress, a holiday airline that the company operated together with Turkish Airlines.

1200 employees, both flight attendants and pilots, were invited to apply for positions at Eurowings Discover within the Group - on less favorable terms.

Eat or die - work for less or go. At the time, Cockpit commented: "Lufthansa is currently taking advantage of the difficult economic environment."

"There will be a need for pilots again in the future."

Cockpit spokeswoman Leila Belaasri

Airline bankruptcies in recent years such as Germanwings or the crisis of the former Thomas Cook subsidiary Condor have also shown that short-term unemployment can also threaten.

Then pilots are surprisingly at a disadvantage: They do not have an officially recognized job description.

From the point of view of the employment agencies, the commercial aircraft license is therefore equivalent to a forklift driver's license.

The Cockpit Association is campaigning for a change.

Understandable: Unemployed pilots have so far been offered completely unrelated jobs by job agencies.

In addition, expensive hours in the flight simulator, which are necessary to obtain the license, are not paid for as advanced training.

In other European countries, on the other hand, there is the recognized occupational profile of "airliner pilot".

Many pilots are currently reorienting themselves.

For example, you can also take responsibility for large means of transport on the railways - but that no longer has anything to do with the dream of flying.

On the other hand, cockpit spokeswoman Belaasri is certain: "There will be a need for pilots again in the future."

Source: spiegel

All business articles on 2021-07-25

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