For airlines that normally depend on analyzing the basics of aircraft economics and market dynamics in assessing routes and strategies, a shortage of qualified pilots has provided a rude awakening to changes well outside the usual trade lanes. In Asia, where countries have seen an upheaval in trading patterns in recent years, finding pilots has emerged as one of they toughest issues for start-ups as well as incumbent airlines.
Marsha Bell, vice president of marketing of Alteon Training, the commercial training arm of Boeing, pointed to the growth rate of aviation in China, which basically sees a doubling of the commercial jet aircraft fleet in three years. Freighter operators in the region are helping feed that demand.
"China needs on average 2,500 pilots a year over the next 20 years," she said.
According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China, the country will need over 9,000 more pilots by 2010 to handle the controls of the new Boeing and Airbus planes that are entering the Chinese fleet at a rate of 150 a year.
Between December 2007 and 2012, Airbus stands to deliver 372 planes to Chinese airlines and Boeing is on course for 335 aircraft.
China's flight schools cannot keep up with this pace. Last September, the CAAC warned they could only train 7,000 pilots until 2010, leaving a shortfall of 2,000.
Source Air Cargo World, http://www.aircargoworld.com
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