Australia to Give Temporary Visas to Foreign Pilots Amid Aviation Crisis

The aviation industry body in Australia is pushing for 4-year visas for foreign pilots.


Australia will allow foreign pilots on two-year visa from January to curb the shortage in the country. The shortage of pilots is so acute that aircraft have to be grounded.

The Centre-right government had removed pilots from the list of jobs open for migrants in April in a bid to preserve Australian employment. But the shortage of pilots forced the government to go for a rethink.

Pilots have been added to the temporary migration list, but the process would undergo a review every six months to check if Australian pilots were being given priority, the Australian Associated Press reported citing a spokesman for Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.

“In order to attract suitably senior pilots, who more than likely have a family growing up and so forth, we need to make it attractive enough for them to come across and uproot their family,” Mike Higgins, the Chief Executive Officer of the industry body, the Regional Aviation Association of Australia, said on Dec. 28, according to the Associated Press. “A four-year period seems to be a sweet spot.”

The industry body is pushing for a 4-year visa instead of two years in Australia where 3 per cent domestic flights were canceled in November, the highest monthly data in almost six years, Reuters reported.

Australian media reported in 2015 and 2016 that Asian and Middle East countries were poaching Australian pilots with big pay packets. Pilots also head outside Australia since they would not get a command position until the seniors move out the way within the country. It is also easier to move up the ladder in airlines at Asian countries.

With the expansion of the aviation industry in Asia, demand for pilots is increasing as well. For instance, China has leased an aerodrome in Australia where thousands of pilots come for training.

The government’s decision earlier this year to remove pilots from the list of jobs open for migrants was criticized by the opposition.

The opposition transport spokesman, Anthony Albanese, said that the skill shortages were an “indictment of the failure” of the government’s handling of Australia’s aviation industry. “The current government has dropped the ball,” Albanese said in Sydney, according to the Guardian.

“Australia should not only be able to produce enough skilled pilots to service our domestic industry, we should also have the capacity to train pilots for all around the world as an export industry to benefit our national economy,” he said.

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