The aviation industry has finally shaken off the turbulence of the past years' global crisis and is well on its way to new heights. The sector painfully learned how unforeseen circumstances can upend everything we take for granted, but it also demonstrated the resilience of the industry.
Through a strong focus on cost and adaptability, AAP has emerged from the crisis stronger and ready to embrace the future.
Aviation recently announced that they are expanding their strategic collaboration of total crew management services with Finnair to include Singapore – Sydney flights from late October 2023 and Bangkok – Sydney flights from March 204.
“The past years have been challenging due to the pandemic, geopolitical conflict, and economic unpredictability, but they also birthed invaluable lessons. Often, it is during the most difficult periods that the most innovative ideas are forged. Today, we are fully restructured and ventured into new business horizons with promising contracts. We are very optimistic about the future," says CEO Espen Høiby.
From an industry perspective, not all have emerged positively from the pandemic. Some airlines have buckled under the strain, going bankrupt, while others bear the heavy burden of enormous debt. In such a scenario, operational efficiency is no longer just an advantage—it's one of the essentials for survival. Høiby firmly believes that AAP has a distinctive opportunity to thrive in this challenging landscape.
The phoenix-like resurgence of air travel demand brings with it a dual challenge: cost optimization and human capital acquisition. And this is where AAP Aviation and its model really demonstrates its value.
"Yet," warns Høiby, "if we as an industry fail to attract sufficient aspiring talents to our industry, we might very well end up in a situation where the implications on the industry’s predicted growth are more severe and lasting than what we experienced to date».
The spectre of an impending pilot shortage has haunted the aviation industry for years. With a significant proportion of today's pilots edging towards retirement, Boeing's latest forecasts indicate a demand for 739,000 new pilots by 2039. In this race against time, Høiby candidly admits, we are alarmingly behind schedule, and it is time that we collectively step up to the challenge.
“We recruit and manage crew all over the world, and we are already seeing how this looming crisis is unfolding. In the US in particular, the pilot shortage is so acute that Captains are being courted with salaries reaching a million dollars. Absent dramatic change, aircraft, each worth millions of dollars, risk being grounded. The term 'cancelled' could become a pervasive echo across airport monitors, holidays will be disrupted, and goods will not arrive in time. We may see a reversal of globalization, and regionals are usually the first to struggle in securing sufficient crew."
In response to this challenge, AAP has taken a proactive stance. The company has acquired Pilot Flight Academy (PFA), one of the largest and most renowned flight schools in Europe and is vigorously training the pilots of tomorrow.
In only 18 months’ time, Pilot Flight Academy delivers fully professional airline pilots. PFA take young students through an inspiring program of high-quality training at their main base at Torp, Norway and at their satellite base in Denton, Texas.
“We want to do our part by offering a top education to talented people seeking a future in international aviation. PFA is well known for its high-quality standards, so it was a natural choice and a strategic fit for us”, Høiby explains. “PFA has been labelled the best ATO in Europe by UK CAA, it has a capacity of 400 students and benefits from one of the most modern facilities and fleet. Through AAP Aviation and through our airline partners, we can offer students an attractive career path”.
AAP Aviation has recently launched its Career Support Program for all students enrolled at PFA to best equip them for the future of a commercial airline pilot. Additionally, PFA is well experienced with running cadet scheme programs for various airlines worldwide, including ANA, Peach and AirFrance.
PFA graduation ceremony June, 2023.
“We are pushing the envelope to bolster recruitment into the industry. We ensure our educational standards are of superior quality, providing students with all requisite licenses, and the right set of skills, knowledge and attitude to succeed as commercial pilots. We're launching scholarships to make pilot training more accessible for more people, we foster an engaging learning environment, and we encourage more women to seek a profession in the cockpit. But this battle cannot be won in isolation, and I remain baffled by how oblivious many players in the industry are to the impending pilot shortage”.
The pilots of the future seek attractive conditions and job security. To herald a resurgence of interest in the profession, we must present an industry that promises flexibility, attractive conditions, and a robust career trajectory, with job security and cadet programs seamlessly integrated into the educational journey. To achieve this, airlines too need to take their part in the equation”.
Given the forecasts for Europe over the next decade, Høiby's concerns are far from misplaced. European airlines will require a substantial number of pilots annually in the coming years, certain reports suggesting as many as 6,000 per year over the next two decades.
Aviation is driven by people and to harness the potential of an increasingly globalized and interconnected world, we need pilots to chart our course. Ultimately, it is All About People and winning the war for talents.