Pilots’ union highlights ‘green shoots’ in pilot recruitment but reminds aspiring pilots of the challenging industrial landscape

The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) is reminding aspiring pilots that as the aviation industry begins its post covid recovery, it remains vital they do their research before committing to costly training.

Today, as we emerge from the covid crisis, we are seeing small batches of external recruitment, however, it is largely for experienced pilots, with many airlines opting to rehire the pilots they previously made redundant.

In November 2020, responding to the developing COVID-19 situation, BALPA took the unprecedented step of issuing a statement recommending that anyone wishing to enter professional flight training or, anyone already in-flight training, delay their intended start date, slow down or pause their training.

BALPA is now revising its message to reflect the changes in the job market.

Airlines are still hurting financially from the effects of Covid-19 and as such, they are largely seeking to recoup those losses with the resources they currently have, rather than recruit external candidates. As such our position is now one of caution. BALPA is now advising that anyone wishing to enter initial flight training, do so only after considering the following points:

In its current format, the MPL (Multi-crew Pilot Licence) training does not afford the trainee any financial nor licencing protection in the event that the tagged airline removes the conditional offer of employment, prior to issue of the trainee’s licence. Until such time as the MPL training structure is reformed to better protect the trainee, we do not recommend any hopefuls pursue this training route.

We recommend trainees choose a route that allows them to adapt their training timeline to the recruitment needs of the industry and allows the trainee as much financial flexibility as possible, by avoiding paying large lump sums of money upfront.

We recommend trainees conduct their own research into the financial position of the flight school, prior to paying for any training in advance and if enrolling in an airline “tagged”, “sponsored” or otherwise “affiliated” course, we suggest they seek independent legal advice from a contract lawyer prior to committing to the training course or parting with any money. Particular attention should be paid to any “conditions of employment” section, with regards to the airline’s hiring needs upon competition of your training.

BALPA Head of Career Services Wendy Pursey said:

“BALPA is here to support its members and to ensure they are protected at every stage of their journey. There are green shoots in the area of pilot recruitment, but it is early days and with so many experienced pilots still looking for work, the competition is tough. We don’t want to see people get burnt just as the industry begins to spark up. Aspiring pilots need to be realistic and evaluate the situation thoroughly. They need to understand just how volatile the market is, to do their research so they can protect their investment and be as prepared as possible for market changes.”