Sarah Cooney

Why Have We Stopped Talking About Diversity?

Recent years have changed the current outlook on demand for new pilots. Before the global pandemic, we were faced with a looming pilot shortage, which quickly changed as flights globally were grounded and airline operations were reduced on an unprecedented scale. Despite this downturn, a recovery is on the horizon.

We know there is tremendous long term growth in air travel based on the number of aircraft ordered. Combined with the forecasted number of pilots close to retirement and many other factors, this will create extraordinary demand for new pilots.

To meet this demand we have been focusing on increasing diversity. There is the need to look beyond the current pilot demographic towards a broader, more diverse group, for example encouraging females to enter the industry. It is still the fact that just 6% of the pilot workforce globally are females and this is something that we have been trying to change. We need to look where there are obstacles such as access to finance, lack of awareness or, dare I say it, discrimination.

But is this the right thing to do and are we making progress? Should we stop focusing on gender, and start focusing on a much broader audience? How can we ensure that we are putting the right people in the right-hand seat? The number of pilots needed globally does not correlate with the volume of applications. As an industry, we need to start acting on that now by shutting down as many barriers for new pilots as possible. Whether it is a gender, a financial barrier, or something else that we are not yet fully aware.

What are airlines doing to increase numbers? Can we keep pilots who are experienced on the line longer?

Day 2 – Wednesday 4th May 2022 – Session 8

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