The world of aviation is truly international, providing easy and safe passage for passengers and cargo to all locations on the globe. However, this ease of transit has implications for pilot jobs and we at the Independent Pilots Association have noticed some worrying developments in this regard.
Companies are now increasingly looking to maximise their profits using cheaper staff brought in for short contractual periods from countries outside the UK, and sometimes outside the EU. In one example, an airline purchased a small European AOC holder so that it could take advantage of being able to operate with non-European pilots flying sectors for up to two weeks at a time thereby apparently circumventing the open skies rules. The pilots being American and not holding EASA ATPL’s. are restricted to two weeks at a time but that is enough when one takes into account FTL’s.
In other cases, airlines are based in one European country, operate an agency to employ staff in another and pay their taxes through several. The pilots are not employees and are required to register themselves as a company. As such, the relationship is one of the company to company and not employee and employer and the pilots have little to no employment protection. Even if there is an arguable case the difficulty then is in which jurisdiction do you bring a claim and against who?
The consequences of all this are obvious to everyone. There are next to no training opportunities for new pilots and fewer and fewer people can afford to get their ATPL’s as there is no company sponsorship and the bank of mum and dad is becoming too stretched to meet the training costs. Companies are instead employing pilots from around the globe to fill the shortfall in pilot availability and this is having and will continue to have an increasingly negative impact on UK pilot supply.
We at the Independent Pilots Association are monitoring these things and whilst no one wants to stifle entrepreneurial innovation and creativity developments that are not sustainable must be questioned and that is what we are doing.