REVEALED: Middle East, Africa Airlines Have World’s Most Stressed, Despondent Pilots


Job insecurity and worse employment contracts could cause pilot shortfall in the future if profession remains unattractive, says report

Pilots flying for Middle Eastern and African airlines have some of the highest stress levels in the industry and are some of the most despondent crews in the world, according to a new survey published as the pilot unemployment rate hits 30 percent.

The COVID crisis has wreaked havoc across global aviation markets causing thousands of pilots to lose their jobs while many of those who have kept their positions have had to work in worse conditions and for less pay.

Many pilots now feel undervalued by their employers and are anxious about financial uncertainty, according to The Pilot Survey 2021, published by GOOSE Recruitment and FlightGlobal.

Respondents flying in China and the Middle East and Africa were the most likely to rate their stress levels at either 4 or 5. Job security and COVID-19 have had the biggest impact on stress levels in recent months, the survey of almost 2,600 pilots said.

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Pilots in the Middle East and Africa (85 percent) were particularly concerned about their job security. The report said that factors including seeing colleagues losing their jobs and the collapse of airlines have had impact on pilot sentiments.


Pilots doing their job

Almost half of pilots said that the pandemic had impacted their mental health, with younger pilots being affected more than older crew. In fact, over a third of pilots said they would consider changing their career as a result of rising stress levels and worsening contracts and mental health. And pilots flying in the Middle East and Africa (60 percent) were least likely to repeat their career choices, given the chance.

“Whilst a reduction in the number of pilots right now may not have an immediate impact on the operations of airlines, we predict that if this percentage of pilots were to hang up their wings, pilot recruitment teams are going to have a tough time ahead. Airlines will potentially need to start planning for the future fallout now,” said Mark Charman CEO and founder of GOOSE Recruitment.

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Some pilots surveyed said they are concerned that airlines are laying off employees so they can re-hire them at a later date with “a worse contract”. The report said that while it has “no evidence of this taking place do wonder if we will see any deterioration of terms once airlines are in a better position to fly and re-hire”.

According to the report, around a third of pilots are now unemployed. Last year’s survey showed that the demand for pilots was at a record high, particularly in growing markets like the Middle East, which was struggling to supply the number of pilots required to meet the demand for air travel.

Charman said: “Some pilots, particularly highly experienced ones will be hesitant about taking a pay cut due to the concerns over devaluing the profession. The acceptance of a deterioration of terms at this point could lead to an industry-wide reduction in times to come. Some pilots will fear this change and will remain firm in the value that their qualifications, experience and skills lend to the industry and may even disapprove of those pilots that would be willing to take a pay cut.

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“However, with so many unemployed pilots, there is a risk that the desperation to secure a new role for financial stability will be too attractive and we could be at risk of seeing remuneration packages decline over the next two years.”

The survey was open for four weeks and closed on 30 October 2020. A total of 2,598 pilots took part in the survey, 19% of whom were based in the Middle East and Africa.

Source: Aviation


Wole Shadare