YOUNG and aspiring pilots, like many other professionals in various industries in the country, face unemployment owing to lack of employment opportunities. This is mainly so because the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has not announced vacancies for hiring young cadet pilots since 2016. The national airlines did announce a process in this regard on March 4, 2018, but later the cut-off date for recruitment was extended until further notice.

Even in 2016 when the last hiring was done, the airline had only recruited 25 cadet pilots from among the 300 who had applied. During the last six years, more than 200 plus trainees got their pilot license, but have remained unemployed. Currently, 90 per cent of fresh and experienced pilots in the country are waiting to get employed. This is obviously because PIA remains the only airline that entertains fresh commercial pilot license (CPL) holders.

As a matter of fact, a student pilot normally invests more than Rs5 million to get the CPL, which is a huge investment indeed for a professional career. And if there are no employment opportunities in the industry, it simply means wastage of money on the part of the individual or the family concerned, and also shatters the dreams of those who love flying.

Recently, PIA announced hiring pilots, but without mentioning how many would be hired. To the disappointment of many pilots, it seems that the recruitment process is not fair, and is being carried out without proper public notice and advertisement in the national press.

To create more misery for the young pilots, maximum age limit for being hired as a pilot has been extended to 45 years when it used to be 35 earlier. Enthusiastic youngsters are being ignored to hire older ones.

The reason for the amendments in age criteria is perhaps because the staff members already in service are being promoted and being given opportunities at the expense of newcomers. The cabin crew, engineers and even flight operations officers, who already have jobs, are most likely being accommodated.

Moreover, local private airlines do not want a CPL holder with instrument rating. It is an irony that our private airlines do not give a chance to young pilots for not having experience, while the same fresh commercial pilots have always been inducted in PIA as cadet pilots. They have proved their skills by flying complex routes, such as Gilgit, Chitral, Skardu, etc.

I would urge all domestic airlines to give the youngsters a fair chance, becasue many of them have proved their mettle whenever an opportunity came their way.

Kifayat Baloch
Quetta

Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2022

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