Turbulence in aviation sector hits demand for pilots, cabin crew

Written by parul | Parul Chhaparia | Diksha Dutta | Diksha Dutta | New Delhi | Updated: May 19 2012, 06:36am hrs
The crisis in the domestic aviation industry has hit the job market for pilots and cabin crew. Placements through training institutes, such as Andhra Pradesh Aviation Academy and Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi (IGRUA), have fallen by around 50%. Recruitment consultants feel the demand for aviation jobs has been flat, or even negative, in the past six months compared to early 2011, when the airlines were increasing their headcount at 15%.

The slowdown has impacted the placements. There are smaller airlines like Spirit Air, Turbo Air who do come for placements and take a few students. However, that is limited, said Capt SN Reddy, CEO, Andhra Pradesh Aviation Academy. The academy, on an average, trains about 11-12 commercial pilots every year. Two years back, it claimed a 100% placement record. Now, the institute is able to place just 4-5 pilots.

Reddy's concerns are shared by HR experts who believe that there would be scarcity of aviation jobs, for both technical and non-technical personnel. Six months ago, the job market was growing by 15%. But in the last half-a -year, the growth has been flat and might hit negative in the future, said E Balaji, MD & CEO, Randstad India.

IGRUA an autonomous body under the civil aviation ministry too is finding it difficult to place students. The institute trains about 100 pilots per year, and had a 100% placement record till a year back. These have now come down to 60-62 pilots. There has been a worldwide impact. There are thousands of commercial pilot licence (CPL) holders who are waiting to get a job. We are now looking at new areas of employment like coast guard, flying instructors, corporate jets, etc, to ensure that out placements remain good, said wing commander SK Kumar of IGRUA. Salary packages have been hit too. The average salary of pilots have gone down from R5 lakh a month around eight months ago to R3 lakh now. Even for air-hostess and cabin crew, the salaries have remained flat at R6-15 lakh per annum, said Jyorden T Misra, MD, Spearhead InterSearch.Just a couple of years ago, trained pilots were reaping the benefits of the aviation boom.

It was earlier estimated that the worldwide aviation sector will require over 1 million pilots and technicians by 2030. However, according to industry experts, around 5,000 CPL holders are now waiting to be employed. Also, in contrast to two years ago, when airlines were increasing their hiring at 20-25%, there are hardly any airlines, barring IndiGo, which are hiring.

For cabin crew, however, the situation seems a bit better. There has been no major change in the placement opportunities for our students. A number of them get placed in airlines like Singapore, Qatar and Emirates. Even domestic carriers like IndiGo, GoAir come for placements, Samir Walia , vice-president marketing and infrastructure corporation, Frankfiin, said.

The travel sector has been the slowest-growing occupation on a year-on-year basis. According to Monster.com, the jobs in this segment have declined by 6% between April 2012 and April 2011. The major reason is that aviation is the biggest employer in the travel segment. Air hostesses and cabin crew are now moving to the hospitality sector, said Rituparna Chakraborty, vice president, TeamLease Services.