Travel Daily News
Thursday, July 06, 2006

hortages of skilled employees are beginning to bite with some Asia Pacific airlines scaling back their expansion plans - and things are likely to worsen in future, according to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA). CAPA estimates that operators in the Asia Pacific and Middle East will require 150,000 additional employees to support new aircraft currently on order. China, India, Asia and the Middle East will be the most seriously affected.

The Centre`s warning comes ahead of the region's first high level aviation conference on the crucial issues of training and outsourcing, Aviation Training Asia 2006, the result of a strategic alliance between CAPA and Flight International. Aviation Training Asia 2006 will bring together the leading organisations affected by this pressing resource scarcity - governments, airlines, airports and, vitally, training institutions - in Hong Kong on 21/22 September 2006. "If I had to choose between fuel costs, rising interest rates and staff shortages as the biggest potential disruption to aviation growth in this region, I would put my money on staff shortages," Peter Harbison, the Centre's Executive Chairman, says.

"It's the big storm on the radar and some carriers, particularly those in fast-growing emerging markets, are already feeling the turbulence by trimming expansion plans." Mr Harbison says the looming training crisis is also increasing pressure on governments to change the regulatory environment to make it easier to train and retain personnel, while "trying to strike a balance with the all-important requirement that safety must come first".

"The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) cut its growth
forecast for the Asia Pacific by 3.1% for 2006 and 4.6% for 2007, compared to last year's forecast. Whether this is in recognition of some of the constraints airlines are facing in fulfilling their growth plans we can only speculate. Forecast growth for the region is still above the global average, but the revision by ICAO is a worrying sign", says Mr Harbison. Kevin O'Toole, Head of Strategy at Flight, says: "Escalating shortages of skilled workers, particularly pilots and maintenance engineers, will occur after record aircraft orders in this region in recent year. This will push up wages, adding to the cost equation, and potentially hampering expansion plans. It has also proven a problem in lower-wage countries, from where pilots are being poached en masse by feisty new players such as those in the Middle East."

Vicky Karantzavelou - Thursday, July 06, 2006