Boeing says Asia needs 240,000 pilots over next two decades

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An Indonesian airline pilot
Image caption,
Commercial airlines pilots will be in high demand in China, South East Asia and India

If you need a job, you may want to consider training as an airline pilot and moving to China.

Boeing forecasts that the Asia Pacific will need the greatest number of pilots, technicians and cabin crew over the next two decades.

The region's economic growth will lead to rising wealth and increased travel, spurring a need for 240,000 more pilots and 317,000 cabin crew by 2037.

China will need half of these new personnel.

The projections place pressure on an industry that is already struggling with a pilot shortage and training bottlenecks.

Older pilots are set to retire over the next decade and there is increasing demand for business aviation services, such as helicopter tourism and private luxury jets.

Media caption,

Pilot shortage: Who's going to fly our planes?

Boeing estimates China will need 128,500 pilots, Southeast Asia 48,500 and South Asia 42,750 pilots.

Boeing's outlook is used to create projections for new airplane deliveries. Unsurprisingly, the Asia Pacific will also lead global demand for new planes.

The US aerospace and defence giant projects that 40% of all new passenger planes will be delivered to airlines in the Asia Pacific over the coming years.

Tighten seatbelts

Boeing has an accelerated pilot development programme but their pipeline will not be enough to meet the growing industry demand.

Image source, Huw Evans picture agency
Image caption,
China's growing middle class are travelling abroad more

"Strong demand for pilots in the region continues, and we expect that this will continue for the next several years," said Keith Cooper, vice president of Training and Professional Services for Boeing Global Services.

Analysts warn the shortage of pilots puts the aviation industry's growth at risk.

Without pilots, planes are sitting idle. Pilots' demand for higher salaries will also cut into profits.

'Intricate network'

In countries where there are strong labour unions, such as the UK and France, demands for increased pay and benefits have led to debilitating strikes.

The aviation industry also faces turbulence in the form of global trade wars.

Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg has warned that the growing US-China trade row could push up costs for aircraft manufacturers

"Aerospace thrives on free and open trade," Mr Muilenburg said.

"We are concerned it could affect supply chain costs - but those supply chains are flowing in both directions [between China and the US], it is an intricate network around the world."