Although the coronavirus pandemic has created an instant surplus of pilots worldwide, it’s also created big gaps in the training pipeline and that has some countries bracing for a pilot shortage in a few years. In Japan, airlines, the government and universities are facing what they see as a looming problem because most pilots for Japanese carriers are trained abroad and the borders are closed to the countries that do the training. Coupled with a major retirement bubble coming up in the next 10 years because of all the hiring done in the 1980s and the number of empty cockpit seats is worrying the industry, according to a report in the Japanese newspaper Mainichi.
“The number of pilots cannot be increased immediately. A long-term plan is necessary and we are keeping a close watch on the situation,” said a senior official of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. The other complicating factor is that no one really knows what the future looks like for airlines so it’s hard to predict how many pilots will be needed. “The training will gradually restart but the long-term plan to increase pilots will be affected by flight demand. We have to carefully decide whether or not to slow it down.”