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Airline Pilot Shortage

Student’s Name

Institution Affiliation


Professor’s Name


Overview of the Research

Airlines worldwide have raised concerns about the pilot shortage and the sustainability of a secure supply of pilots (Meridith, 2020). Research analysts and scholars in the Middle East and worldwide build on these concerns by revealing that shortage of qualified pilots is a critical risk in the business processes of airlines. Top-tier workforce recruitment is essential since aviation leverages quality, responsibility, and professionalism. This aspect impacts the recruiting and onboarding process since searching for a qualified talent pool among pilots in this modern age is like waiting for a miracle vaccine for a relentless virus.

The early 2000s saw an increase in population in the Middle East. Population increase in middle-income countries meant more demand for air travel (Maxwell and Roa, 2021). Increased demand prompts airlines to expand facilities to align with the population growth to satisfy consumer demand (Caraway, 2020; Pongpirul et al., 2020). However, the pilot shortage hindered the expansion since the airplanes would be grounded without adequate personnel (Wall and Tangel, 2018). This issue has plagued the aviation industry for decades (Lutte, 2018). Further, the aviation industry faced another challenge with the onset of the pandemic three years ago. The pandemic resulted in significant operational challenges for airlines. The pipeline of qualified pilots dried out since training institutions closed and reduced airline travel.

Conversely, pandemic management has created chances of a future increase in airline travel demand considering discovering a vaccine (Valenta, 2018). The pandemic enhanced the impacts of furloughs and reduced supply due to its health implications on people (Liang, 2020). It acts as an external force that promotes pilot shortage (Christidis and Christodoulou, 2020; Macilree and Duval, 2020). Researchers have made evidence-based extrapolations into future events in the aviation industry, revealing that mandatory vaccinations and rapid recoveries will effectively increase demand for air travel (Troyer et al., 2021; Klapper & Ruff-Stahl, 2019). Therefore, it is vital to determine the pilot supply and demand gap. Moreover, it is also essential to decide whether retirement, defections, and furloughs contribute to the pilot shortage.

Aim of research

Hiring and onboarding newly qualified pilots in the Middle East have been challenging due to divergent aspects. Recruitment challenges pose significant risks to the aviation industry since a pilot shortage results in substantial losses, which hinder growth and development. Further, defections, retirement add to the critical challenge of the pilot shortage. In light of these issues affecting the aviation industry, this research examines how pilot shortage and attribution affect the Middle East’s aviation industry.


  1. To determine the gap between the supply and demand for pilots and its impact on the development

  2. To determine the impacts of recruitment challenges, retirement, furloughs, and defections.

The rationale for the research

This research provides insights into the underpinning of pilot shortages. Like any other problem, pilot shortage in the Middle East has its causes that researchers and scholars examine to enable management to make informed decisions. Pilot shortage in the Middle East is a development and sustainability risk that impacts the effectiveness of the industry. Given that airline travel is the primary means of global travel and migration for the Middle Eastern population, the aviation industry needs to identify the pilot shortage and demand gap to formulate practical strategies that will address the situation. Insights into the degree of shortage and attrition will prompt the airlines to adopt flexible recruitment and human resource management to ensure the hiring process reconciles with the post-COVID demand forecast (Klapper, & Ruff-Stahl, 2019).

Additionally, insights into the supply and demand gap will enable the airlines in the Middle East to engage an employee culture to enhance job fulfillment and satisfaction. This strategy will allow the aviation industry to maintain the pilot numbers from the impacts of burnout, layoffs due to burnout, and defection. Also, the study will educate the airlines on the importance of investing in training and recruitment programs to reinforce the pilot supply (Valenta, 2018). This alignment will reconcile with the post-COVID forecast of the high demand for air travel in the Middle East and the world (Macilree and Duval, 2020). Lastly, the airlines require knowledge of the impacts of pilot shortage to leverage it when reducing pilot demand through stellar organizational management (Pongpirul et al., 2020). In other words, it will help airlines reduce the required pilots by reinforcing workforce productivity through motivation, reward, and positive reinforcement.

Why I would study the issue

I would want to examine this issue because it helps me expand my knowledge of the effects of the pilot shortage in the Middle East and worldwide. The pilot shortage has numerous causes caused by internal and external factors. The COVID-19 pandemic brought more pilot supply and retention challenges due to early retirement, mandatory layoffs, and reduced demand. However, the post-COVID forecasts reveal an increase in demand for aviation travel which poses a different issue about pilot shortage in the Middle Eastern aviation industry (Abu-Rayash and Dincer, 2020; Klapper, & Ruff-Stahl, 2019). Therefore, this study will help me quantify the gap between supply and demand and differentiate between internal causes of pilot shortage- employee dissatisfaction and retirement, from the external causes-lack of the secure pipeline for qualified pipeline and COVID-19 and other natural disasters.


In summary, the pilot shortage is an issue that has provided significant development and sustainability risks for the Middle Eastern aviation industry. Considering that the population has been growing since early 2000, the middle-income economy has seen individuals engage in air travel more frequently for global migration, tourism, and business trips. From the early years, the aviation industry has faced expansion challenges because of the comprehensive supply and demand gap. The pilot shortage limits the aviation expansion reconcile with the demand. This research aims to investigate how pilot shortage affects the aviation industry. It is relevant since it provides the aviation industry with vital insights into managing the situation. It will also help me differentiate internal and external causes of pilot shortages in the Middle East. Thus, it is vital that the issue of pilot shortages in the Middle East is resolved swiftly to allow the success of the aviation industry.


Abu-Rayash, A. and Dincer, I. 2020 ‘Analysis of mobility trends during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic: Exploring the impacts on global aviation and travel in selected cities,’ Energy Research & Social Science Volume 68, h ttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2020.101693

Caraway, C. L. 2020′ A Looming Pilot Shortage: It is Time to Revisit Regulations,’ International Journal of Aviation, Aeronautics, and Aerospace, 7(2). https://doi.org/10.15394/ijaaa.2020.1470

Christidis P. and Christodoulou, A. 2020 ‘The Predictive Capacity of Air Travel Patterns during the Global Spread of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Risk, Uncertainty and Randomness,’ International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(10), p.3356. https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/17/10/3356

Klapper, E. S., & Ruff-Stahl, H. K. 2019 ‘Effects of the Pilot Shortage on the Regional Airline Industry: A 2023 Forecast’ International Journal of Aviation, Aeronautics, and Aerospace, 6(3). https://doi.org/10.15394/ijaaa.2019.1321

Liang, M. 2020 ‘Applying Behavioral Science and Automation in Future Of Aviation,’ ResearchGate.net. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/342365961_Applying_Behavioural_Science_and_Automation_in_Future_of_Aviation

Lutte, R. 2018 ‘Pilot Supply at the Regional Airlines: Airline Response to the Changing Environment and the Impact on Pilot Hiring,’ Journal of Aviation / Aerospace Education & Research, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 1-22, https://doi.org/10.15394/jaaer.2018.1749

Macilree, J and Duval, D.T. 2020 ‘Aero politics in a post-COVID-19 world, ‘Journal of Air Transport Management, Volume 88, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jairtraman.2020.101864.

Maxwell, D and Roa, J 2021 ‘Exploratory Analysis on Urban Air Mobility and Pilot Shortage,’ International Conference on Transportation and Development 2021. https://ascelibrary.org/doi/abs/10.1061/9780784483541.006

Meredith, S. 2020 ‘Boeing CEO Says A Global Pilot Shortage is ‘One Of The Biggest Challenges’ Facing The Airline Industry,’ CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/17/boeing-ceo-says-global-pilot-shortage-isone-of-the-biggest-challenges.html

Pongpirul K, Kaewpoungngam K, Chotirosniramit K, and Theprugsa S. 2020 ‘Commercial airline protocol during COVID-19 pandemic: An experience of Thai Airways International. PLOS ONE, 15(8), p.e0237299. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7410241/pdf/pone.0237299.pdf

Troyer, H., Sieunarine, N., Pichainarongk, S. and Bidaisee, S. 2021 ‘Covid-19 and Aviation,’ Journal of Infectious Diseases & Case Reports https://www.onlinescientificresearch.com/articles/covid19-and-aviation.pdf

Valenta, V. 2018 ‘Effects of Airline Industry Growth on Pilot Training,’ Czech Technical University in Prague. https://doi.org/10.14311/MAD.2018.04.06

Wall, R. and Tangel, A. 2018 ‘Facing a critical pilot shortage, airlines scramble to hire new pilots,’ Wall Street Journal. http://opportunityamericaonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/FACING-A-CRITICAL-PILOT-SHORTAGE-AIRLINES-SCRAMBLE-TO-HIRE-NEW-PILOTS.pdf

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