Pilot Shortage Sparks Government Action Overseas

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An explosion of low-cost carriers and a shortage of viable flight schools is behind a pilot shortage that has forced some airlines to ground aircraft and even cancel flights in India. According to Rediff.com, the country will need about 3,500 pilots in the next five years and domestic schools are only producing about 100 a year. The shortage is so acute that the government has taken drastic measures over the past year to try and minimize the impact on travelers. In December, the mandatory retirement age was increased to 65 (a pilot younger than 60 must be in the cockpit) but it's the so-called anti-poaching legislation that has pilots in the biggest lather. As the new airlines opened up, they naturally tried to lure pilots from other carriers and money is the most obvious incentive. Indian airline pilots make about $10,000 a month, ten times what an Indian air force jockey makes. To cut down on cherry picking by pilots (and the schedule disruption it brings), the government passed a law that requires pilots to give six months' notice before switching airlines. The law also prohibits them from refusing to work a normal number of flights during the six months.