Facing Job Shortage at Home, Indian Pilots Moving Abroad

Lion Air, Silk Air, Scoot, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways are airlines that readily offer jobs to Indian pilots.


The scarcity of jobs in the Indian aviation sector is forcing pilots to move overseas in search of jobs. While there are jobs available abroad for Indian pilots, working conditions may not be suitable for forcing them to elsewhere or come back to India.

According to a report in the Statesman newspaper, Indian pilots often reach out to airlines in the Middle East or South-East Asia as countries there have several domestic and international airlines that readily hire Indian pilots. Lion Air, Silk Air, Scoot, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways are a few top airlines that offer jobs to Indian pilots.

This news comes at a time when an Indonesia Lion Air flight captained by Indian Bhavye Suneja crashed into the sea two days ago killing everyone onboard. He had joined the low-cost carrier in March 2011.

The newspaper quotes Captain Vikram Yadav, a former official of Indian Commercial Pilots Association, as saying, “Job security is just one of the primary reasons why pilots go abroad.”

He told the publication that as pilots are facing job shortage in India, they are attracted toward the aviation job markets of other countries. To work as a pilot abroad, Indian pilots need a license from Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

With India having a good domestic aviation safety record, foreign airlines are inclined to hire Indian pilots.

After obtaining a commercial pilot license (CPL), pilots need to accumulate flying hours to keep their license intact so many pilots end up taking jobs at every available airline or country. Aviation is a risky and costly business. There was a time when Indian airlines hired foreign pilots due to lack of domestic pilots and there have been times when foreign airlines hire Indian pilots due to a shortage of pilots in their own countries.

A pilot who did not want his name to be revealed told the newspaper that “Small countries are short of skilled airline pilots, so they hire from India and other countries.”

The pilot also said that as bigger airlines prefer pilots from their own countries, Indian pilots are left with only nine airlines across the world. He also said, “Lion Airlines has a contract with a flying academy in India and there are many more Indian pilots working in the airline.”

In another news report, India’s largest airline IndiGo has asked French-Italian aircraft manufacturer ATR to postpone the delivery of aircraft because of the shortage of pilots that can fly ATR turboprops.

A senior official of IndiGo confirmed to Economic Times that airline is facing a shortage of pilots that can fly ATR aircraft.

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