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Mon 29 Aug 2011 03:29 PM

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Saudia risks pilot shortfall with hiring policy

Airline risks alienating local talent with age barrier for new pilots, warns analyst

Saudia risks pilot shortfall with hiring policy
The Middle East is expected to need over 36,000 pilots by 2030 to keep pace with its growing fleets, Boeing said

Saudi Arabian Airlines risks
alienating local aviation talent after overhauling its hiring policy to
stipulate that newly-qualified pilots must be under the age of 27, an aviation
analyst said Monday.

The flagship carrier is reportedly
being sued by 55 Saudi pilots who claim they were unfairly denied jobs because of
Saudia’s new recruitment criteria.

The group claim their
applications to become accredited pilots with the airline were rejected because
they were older than 27 and had failed an English-language test, Arab News
reported.

Aviation analyst Saj Ahmed said the policy could hurt the airline at a time when Saudi Arabia is pushing for increased
employment of nationals, and Gulf carriers are competing for staff.

“For Saudi Arabian Airlines to change the mandatory
requirements for pilot needs, is not only isolating local talent, but is [also]
pushing new recruits to seek employment outside of the carrier,” he told
Arabian Business.

“Foreign pilots brought into the airline are still happy to
be trained up and ply their trade elsewhere leaving Saudi Arabian Airlines
having to look for more pilots while ignoring the domestically trained crew
that have no jobs,” he said.

Middle East’s fast-growing carriers will buy up 2,520
aircraft by 2030 as part of a $4 trillion global market for new planes, Boeing
said in July. The buying boom will trigger a need for aviation manpower, including
36,600 pilots and 53,000 technicians by 2030, in order for Gulf airlines to
keep their fleets mobile.

“When you look at the likes of Emirates, Etihad Airways and
Qatar Airways, these three airlines alone have massive pilot needs and can tap
into unused Saudi pilots,” Ahmed said.

Saudi Aviation Flight Academy said in June that at least
1,700 new pilots are required each year to meet demand, with 900 required each
year in the kingdom alone.

The 55 pilots are expected to file their case at the Jeddah
Administrative Court after the Eid Al Fitr holiday.

Saudi Arabian Airlines did not respond to emails and calls
for comment.  

The case may prove to be the latest in a series of legal
woes for the airline. Saudi Arabian Airlines earlier
this month agreed to pay $14m to resolve claims that it conspired with more
than two dozen airlines across the globe to artificially inflate the price of
air-cargo shipments.

The class-action originated
from a US Department of Justice investigation into a number of airlines
suspected of violating antitrust rules.

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American in Kuwait 8 years ago

IF YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND ENGLISH YOU SHOULDN'T BE ALLOWED TO FLY. 27 IS STUPID AND FOR SURE I WOULDN'T FLY SAUDIA IF TRUE

Saudi Pilot 8 years ago

I am one of the Saudi Pilots, And i did pass the Test of English as a Foreign Language ( TOEFL) Score 500, Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) Level 6 and the ICAO English level 4. Also certified Commercial Pilot from the general authority of civil aviation of Saudi Arabia , more than 7 years in aviation operation, 28 years old. And willing to relocate to any where to fly.
I wish Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar find a way to invest on us.
BTW the number of the qualified Saudi Pilots is more than 700.

Adnan Firat 8 years ago

Then why do you not join one of the other airlines? it sounds to me that you need to gain experience, so get a job with a small company and work your way up like most pilots have to do.

Flight Instructor in Florida 8 years ago

As a flight instructor who has personally worked with countless students including Saudi students , i found that their English skills are well beyond what they need for flying . they are capable of interpreting charts , communicating with tower , study publications for written and practical test . As an educator in the aviation field i believe that TOEFL is not a valid test for examining pilot English as it highly depends on a vocabulary intended for collage academia rather then what is needed to fly safely. there are English tests that we in the aviation business use to measure a candidates English proficiency and are established by the ICAO . Out of all the students i have recommended pilot exam , i found that Saudi student were disciplined and very serious about safety issues and were excellent pilots

Capt. Adel 8 years ago

As one of the affected pilots will answer Mr. Adnan, all small companies in KSA requiring experienced pilots, who flew more than 5000 hours, and other airlines such as Qataria or Etihad prefer to hire their local pilots who are just holding the licenses exactly like us, we tried with them but they said: if you holding our nationality we gonna hire you, but unfortunately you are not, so you have to get 5000 flying hours to work with us.

wVmxrLSS 8 years ago

Until I found this I touhght I'd have to spend the day inside.