Qantas has confirmed its proposed pilot training academy will be operating from two Australian regional centres by 2020.
In June, the airline group announced a shortlist of nine regional centres were being considered for the school, comprising three in New South Wales (Dubbo, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga), two in Queensland (Mackay and Toowoomba) and one in each in the Northern Territory (Alice Springs), Tasmania (Launceston), Victoria (Bendigo) and Western Australia (Busselton).
The academy is due to open in 2019 and would initially train about 100 pilots a year for the Qantas group of airlines.
However, looking further ahead, Qantas has previously indicated this could grow to 500 pilots a year on a fee for service basis depending on demand from other parts of the industry.
When the shortlist was announced, Qantas said it was considering the idea of a second academy, given the broader demand for pilots from other airlines, the defence force or service providers such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
At the company’s 2017/18 full year results presentation on Wednesday, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said an announcement on where the pilot training academy would be based was only weeks away.
Further, Joyce confirmed a second site would be operational in 2020.
“Today we’re committing to a second pilot academy facility to help meet global demand,” Joyce said.
“It’s a commercial opportunity for Qantas – to train pilots for other airlines – and an opportunity to support the broader aviation industry in a country that relies so heavily on air transport.”
Despite the addition of a second site for the pilot training academy, Qantas said its total investment in the venture was unchanged at $20 million, “reflecting the levels of third-party support”.
Joyce said those assessing the bids from the various regional centres had been impressed with the level of community support for the school.
“It’s been fantastic,” Joyce said.
“It’s reflected in the levels of support put forward by governments, councils and the private sector. There’s a lot of excitement about using the Academy to leverage more jobs and investment for the region.”
Industry analysis shows strong demand amid shortage of experienced pilots
The Boeing 2018-2037 Boeing Pilot and Technician Outlook has forecast commercial airline industry will require 635,000 new pilots over the next 20 years in response to a doubling of the fleet and record demand for air travel.
Boeing noted in its Business Environment Update report for 2018 there were currently 295,000 active commercial pilots around the world.
Asia Pacific represented the largest source of demand with 31 per cent of all new pilots, 34.1 per cent of all technicians and 36.1 per cent of all cabin crew to be recruited in the region between now and 2037.
Meanwhile, a report compiled by an Australian expert industry panel has concluded urgent action was needed if Australia’s aviation industry was to avoid disruptions due to the shortage of pilots and skilled maintenance engineers.
“Australia is experiencing a severe shortage of aviation personnel and the situation is growing worse,” the report published on July 27 stated.
“The current shortage of qualified pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers is a global problem and a major issue for Australia’s aviation system.
“This is not a future threat, it is a significant present challenge that is currently disrupting the industry, and actions to address it need to include immediate mitigations supported by a longer-term sustainable strategy which involves many stakeholders.”