Its a myth that India has a large number of unemployed pilots - 5000 is the number often quoted. However, a majority of these pilots got their CPLs several years ago and find it difficult to maintain currency and several have moved to other jobs. The current policy in India is that airline captains in India must give one year of notice to their employer regarding their if they want to leave their job and first officers must give six months’ notice. This reason for this is a shortage of suitably qualified crew.

In a very short period of time, the supply of pilots in India has gone from a glut to a shortage, and the policy change by the DGCA on restricting pilot movement is just one indication. Hiring exams for large airlines in India draw fewer applicants. Airlines therefore are desperate for pilots. As of now, all major airlines in India are hiring, but the problem they face that a very small number of pilots manage to clear the very tough entrance tests.

Both Airbus and Boeing update their worldwide forecasts of airliner purchases each year.  Both do a 20 year period prediction and both are very bullish for purchases in the Asia-Pacific region and in India in particular.  Airbus shows China at +12.7% and India at +12.6% leading the way in capacity growth worldwide in 2016.  Fueling this growth is growth of the Low Cost Carriers (LCCs) like IndiGo which was aided by deregulation and growth in the intra-regional market.

Boeing forecasts that the share of the world fleet in the Asia-Pacific region will grow from 29% today to 37% in 20 years.  Boeing states that Asia is forecast to be the biggest travel market by 2036 fueled in large part by economic growth.  Boeing also forecasts that Southeast Asia will create a demand for 4,210 airplanes over the next 20 years with 2,100 of those planes needed in India.  Many of the most current forecasts, however, mention some possible slow-downs in the airline market caused by several factors including the possible increasing price of fuel.  The nation’s infrastructure, particularly in India, may also slow growth if it does not keep up with demand.  There are already indications that the largest airports in India may have difficulty opening slots for the smaller regional planes at the nation’s largest airports. The number of Domestic Indian passengers is expected to grow almost six times in the next 20 years, reaching the level as Domestic USA is today. 

CAE’s recently released 10 year forecast of airline pilot demand also predicts exceptional growth over that period.  In Europe and the USA that growth is due primarily to pilot retirements, that is not the case in the Asia-Pacific region.  CAE predicts a worldwide growth of 255,000 airline pilots required over the next 10 years with 90,000 of those required in the Asia-Pacific region.  They go on to note that 50% of the pilots who will be flying in the year 2027 worldwide have not even started to train yet.  70% of the predicted increase in pilots needed in the Asia-Pacific region will be due to growth in the airline industry.  They note that “India’s recent implementation of less stringent foreign ownership rules may help stimulate air travel growth.”

World-wide factors are also increasing demand for pilots from India.  Hiring by air carriers in the Middle East including Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar has lured many experienced captains from India.  There is also movement between carriers in India of even experienced first officers seeking a quicker route to the commander position.

It must be kept in mind that the history of aviation growth worldwide has never been one of steady growth sustained over long periods.  But it certainly appears that India and the Asia-Pacific region are poised for tremendous growth.


This is therefore the right time to embark on an aviation career. Flight training with us will ensure you get a very high quality of training, which will be focussed on your grooming as an airline pilot and equipping with skills and knowledge required to be hired by airlines.

© 2019 by Flightrule Aviation Services LLP

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