As air travel is on the road to recovery after Covid-19 restrictions eased out, reports suggest the Middle East will soon face an acute pilot shortage by 2023.
Data shows that massive lay-offs during the pandemic and simultaneous retirements are the primary reasons behind the demand and supply gap. By 2023, the region will face a shortage of 3,000 pilots, which will soar to 18,000 by 2032 if no actions are taken, according to global management consultancy Oliver Wyman.
The strong travel demand has already resulted in Dubai International (DXB) increasing its annual footfall forecast for this year to over 62 million passengers. DXB recorded a jump of 190% in terms of footfall in Q2 of 2022 on a year-on-year basis.
“We expect the Middle East to be the region affected soonest by the shortage outside of North America, driven by a projected sharp increase in air travel demand over the next few years, new players entering the market, and big tourism developments happening in the region,” says André Martins, partner – head of IMEA Transportation and Services at Oliver Wyman.
“If demand for air travel continues to grow, airlines need to accelerate recruiting efforts from other regions where we anticipate less acute shortages, particularly Latin America and the Asia Pacific, to fill gaps. Failing that, we may see an adjustment of schedules into and out of the region, impacting the Middle East’s carriers and airport operators,” adds Martins.
The report also revealed that while Latin America and Africa are not expected to see a shortage, North America will face a deficit of around 30,000 pilots by 2032, which is worst than the Middle East. Asia, too, has a surplus of pilots, owing to less demand.
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