Jobless pilots head to Australia

Local airlines see “silver linings” in the collapse of international airlines, as an increasing number of US pilots are applying for jobs in Australia.

Qantas’s budget subsidiary Jetstar and Tiger Airways said it has become easier to recruit pilots from overseas, offsetting the pilot shortage in Australia.

“The cycle has thrown up some opportunities, and right now I’m probably getting 50 applications a day from US-based pilots saying, ‘Give us a job’,” Tiger’s chief executive Tony Davis told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“A year ago, we were predicting the complete opposite and people like us would be running around the world saying, ‘Where do you get pilots?’”

Over 20 airlines worldwide have either shut down or filed for bankruptcy protection in the first half of this year, with major carriers grounding more than 460 aircraft.

The surge of international pilots is expected to counter the acute shortage of pilots in Australia, which has hit regional airlines such as Regional Express and QantasLink hard, forcing them to slash services and source foreign pilots using 457 visas.

“We are optimistic that this challenge we are going through will create more opportunities than threats,” Mr Davis said.

“There are silver linings in some of these clouds.”

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