Pilot shortage could add to summer holiday woes

Some UK airlines are struggling to find air crew for summer holiday flights and have reported a shortage of trained pilots, according to recruitment specialists.

The combination of increased demand for air travel and low investment in pilot training in the aftermath of the  US terror attacks in September 2001 is responsible for the shortage, technical and engineering recruitment firm Wynnwith said.

About 217 million passengers went through UK airports last year, an 8% rise on 2003, and long-haul passenger numbers exceeeded pre-9/11 numbers for the first time during 2004.

Noirin Guinan, chief executive of Wynnwith, said: “There are simply not enough qualified pilots at present and some airlines have immediate requirements that are unfulfilled because of the shortage.

“The number of airlines coming to us to help them has increased hugely.”

Long-term growth in passenger numbers is not forecast to slow significantly, despite concerns about security. Tourist numbers rose following the Madrid attacks and London is expected to prove just as resilient.

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

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