Asia In Rough Shape
Are you traveling this summer? Most of us will take to the skies to visit family members elsewhere or we will visit far off places looking to get away from it all. But what happens if you can’t get to your destination as planned? Is there no plane at the gate to get you there? Is the flight crew delayed and scheduled to arrive two hours from now? There are lots of reasons why your travels by air could be delayed but did you ever expect that a pilot shortage would be the culprit?
We reported a few months ago about a report that Boeing put out that really exemplifies what kind of problem the pilot shortage could be. Asia, Africa and Latin America will really feel the need for more pilots as the total need will basically double the demand for licensed, qualified pilots by 2030. That should equate to about 1 million pilots. But airlines throughout Asia are already feeling the pinch of not enough pilots.
Vanilla Air is a wholly owned subsidiary of ANA and is based in Tokyo. They have already decided to cut flights in the month of June that will affect 2500 total passengers. They are blaming the need to cut flights directly on the lack of qualified pilots to fly the airplanes.
“The company has not been able to secure a planned number of pilots, on top of some crew members leaving the firm.” said Tomonori Ishii, the president of Vanilla Air said in a recent press conference.
Vanilla Air is not alone in the Asian market either; Peach Aviation Ltd. is also planning on cancelling flights between May and October of this year for the same reason. Over 16 percent or about 2128 flights will be cancelled affecting around 27,000 total passengers. Peach Aviation is also an affiliate of ANA Holdings the company that owns both Vanilla and ANA.
Is It Really A Shortage?
Last Week Iceland Air was forced to cancel a few flights. You can see a snapshot I took from their mobile site that was advertising the cancellation of five total flights on the 17th of May, because of a pilot shortage. Well, why this may be somewhat correct, but its not for the same reason that Vanilla and Peach are planning to cancel flights. Iceland Air was dealing with a pilot/crew labor dispute that had pilots on a scheduled walk-out. Iceland Air pilots had scheduled nine total days between the dates of May 9th and June 3rd in which they wouldn’t work. These proposed days of work stoppage would have affected 100,000 passengers and 600 flights all together. I will say it was nice that they were polite enough to at least schedule something. I would have hated for them to just walk out one day without any prior notice to the company! But, regardless there was plenty of delays and cancellations to go around.
Update to all of this is that the Iceland Group has signed a temporary wage agreement with the Icelandic Airline Pilots Association (FIA) that will be good through the end of September. In the mean time a more permanent agreement will be written up for everyone to fight… I mean agree too, which is good for the airline because a new law forbidding the pilots union from striking has been written by Icelandic parliament and passed by a simple majority.
It is of course in the best interest of Iceland to negotiate with their flight crews because there are estimates that the country was losing something close to ISK 1 billion per day, which is equivalent to $8.8 million/day.
So here’s to your safe and happy travels this summer, I hope they are filled with sun, sand and no shortages!