, 1er journal des professionnels du tourisme francophone

Jobs: what employment opportunities for French pilots?

In France, this market is hard to enter in the short term

Despite the development of air transport, employment opportunities still remain slim for young French pilots. They may have to wait a few more years before they can easily find a position in the job market.

Rédigé par Laury-Anne CHOLEZ translated by Joséphine Foucher le Jeudi 17 Juillet 2014

the numerous restructuring plans of Air France © Kovalenko Inna -
the numerous restructuring plans of Air France © Kovalenko Inna -
We tend to say that pilots are well-off, salaried right after graduating to earn a 5 figure income.

However, with the current crisis crossing the air transport sector, their situation is not as desirable as before.

Of course, the development of the air transport sector in the world gives hope for massive international recrutements.

According to an estimation by the training center CTC Aviation, the aeronautic industry will soon need 235,000 new pilots, and up to 498,000 according to Boeing.

This positive estimate was toned down by Marc Houalla, Director of ENAC, the national school of civilian aviation in an article published in La Tribune. He projects more around 50,000 to 100,000 new upcoming hires.

But whatever the figures, the employment opportunities will not be the same all around.

A hard market for young French pilots

In France, in the short term, the market remains difficult to access due to the numerous restructuring plans that Air France undertook.

The employment freeze and the adjournment of retirement age by five years has ended the guarantee of a full-time job after graduating.

In fact, ENAC has reduced the number of spots to avoid saturation: only 14 students where accepted this year versus 30 in 2013.

As for emerging markets, they could be seen as being more promising, but the situation is also mixed.

While experienced pilots can easily find a position, especially as trainers, young pilots struggle to find work.

“South America for instance is quite protectionist. It is difficult to find a spot when we lack experience” explains Matthieu Farrugia from the general association of student pilots of civilian aviation (AGEPAC).

Of the 300 members, he estimates that around 10% will work abroad.

An employment rate that remains low

In fact, some countries impose regulatory barriers, for example the obligation of having flown a minimum of 1500 hours, whereas graduates from ENAC finish with only 250 hours under their belt.

Consequently, many young pilots practice an extra aeronautic activity: they are instructors in air-clubs, work in agricultural spreading, advertisement flights or get into business flying, where positions are also rare.

“Being a plane pilot is a passionating career that many young people dream about. But the employment rate remains low, around 20%” explains Matthieu Farrugia.

Despite all of that, Philippe Crebassa, the assistant director of ENAC, stays positive. “The air transport sector has been through other crises but it has also proved to be resilient” he assures.

He reminds us that in the 1990s, the market boomed so quickly that he had to organize express trainings of young graduates.

“It is true that in the short run, the situation will remain complicated. But I am convinced that in 2 or 3 years, students who take on this career path will have no issue finding work.”

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