Pay for UK contract pilots has jumped 20% in the past six months, as airlines struggle to find pilots to cover holiday season demand, according to recruitment firm Wynnwith.

Shortages caused by increased demand for air travel, coupled with lack of investment in pilot training after 9/11, mean that pay for contract captains could rise further, says Wynnwith chief executive Noirin Guinan.

“There are not enough qualified pilots,” says Guinan, “and some airlines have immediate requirements that are unfulfilled because of the shortage. The number of airlines coming to us to help them find pilots has increased hugely.”

Contract pilots are especially in demand, as budget airlines prefer to hire flexible staff to keep overheads under control.

“Airlines need to step up pilot training in anticipation of even greater passenger volumes next year,” says Guinan.

Lack of international licensing integration means that many pilots from overseas are not immediately eligible to fly in the UK, so they cannot be drafted in to fill short-term vacancies.

“The airline industry needs access to a truly global skills base, but without a formal understanding between the international licensing bodies, restrictions in supply will continue to hamper the UK market periodically,” says Guinan.

Rising passenger numbers could also result in greater demand for engineers to conduct maintenance, Guinan believes.

Source: Flight International