Airlines feel the pilot pressure

Tensions over the global pilot shortage have erupted locally, with Regional Express (Rex) accusing its larger rivals of poaching more than half its captains over the past two years.

In an open letter, the regional carrier has blamed Qantas and Virgin Australia for compounding a situation that has hit airlines around the world, saying the “rapacious plundering” of its pilot pool was causing crew shortages and service disruptions.

The major carriers have rejected the Rex claims and pointed to their own investment in pilot training, which has included Qantas’ February announcement that it plans a new pilot academy able to train up to 500 newcomers a year.

“It’s natural to see some movement between airlines from people seeking advancement, just like in every other industry,” a Qantas spokesperson said in response to Rex’s claims.

“No Australian airline invests more in training pilots than the Qantas Group.”

Boeing further highlighted the issue last month when it released a report forecasting demand for an extra 790,000 pilots worldwide over the next 20 years — a doubling of the current global workforce.