australian aviation logo

Union calls for job-ready training program for unemployed pilots

written by Hannah Dowling | September 23, 2021

A Boeing 737 FTD at the SimJet Flight Training Centre in the Brisbane Airport precinct. Nick Kranenburg

The Australian Federation of Air Pilots is calling on the government to introduce a Job Ready Pilot program to get unemployed Australian pilots trained and ready to return to their roles.

According to a survey performed by the union, there are over 1,000 pilots in Australia that are currently without work, which could impede on the expected surge in demand for air travel once restrictions ease throughout the country.

Noting how critical it is for pilots to retain their skills and proficiency, and how fundamental the aviation industry is for the nation’s economic recovery, the union has put forward a proposal for a $10 million Job Ready Pilot (JRP) program that could see unemployed pilots ready to return to work as soon as required.

The union, in collaboration with Ansett Aviation Training, has developed and proposed a three-tier training package, which includes medical and ASIC renewals, simulator training sessions, and flight training, in order to return pilots back to operational status.

AFAP said that getting these pilots job-ready ahead of time will also work to save airlines costs on additional training, and get the industry back on its feet quicker.


“As Australia progresses out of the pandemic, and the associated economic stress, there is a real risk that the time required to progress pilots back to being job-ready will lead to impediments to service provision and capacity,” AFAP said in a submission to the senate transport committee.

“We refer to this as the pilot ‘training pipeline’, which necessarily can’t be rushed for safety and compliance purposes.

“Thus, without a program that anticipates the impending pilot resources shortfall and that targets assistance to return professional pilots to a job-ready status, the benefits and connectivity from aviation that the existing programs cite as a basis will be undermined and hampered.”

According to AFAP, the longer a pilot is away from their active flying duties, the more intensive and costly their training is going to be in order to return them to job-ready status, and costs could end up falling back on the pilots themselves.

Further, recent rumours suggest that Australian pilots are being recruited by foreign airlines to work overseas, some of which are offering generous sign-on bonuses, or offering to pay for retraining, the union said, which makes a homegrown pilot retention program more crucial than ever.

“These factors underscore our earlier emphasis on a need to expeditiously initiate a program to re-engage non-flying Australian pilots back into the Australian aviation sector,” AFAP said.

AFAP said it had developed the program following collaboration and discussion with airlines and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, to ensure it meets regulatory requirements.

The union highlighted that the Australian government has offered over $2.7 billion in financial aid to the aviation sector since the beginning of the pandemic, however said that these programs could face “reduced effectiveness” if pilots aren’t offered the necessary training to return to the industry.

“Existing aviation assistance program funding allocations are approaching the $3 billion mark,” AFAP said.

“And in comparison, for an anticipated program fund of only up to $10 million, the question should really be: Can Australia afford not to fund and establish a Job Ready Pilot program?”

You need to be a member to post comments. Become a member today!

Comments (9)

  • Peter D


    I think this is a really good idea. Make them sign an agreement that they intend to fly for an Australian Airline. If they do this training and then work overseas, they must pay back the monies spent.

  • Bryan


    So the TWU wants the Fed Govt ie Aussie taxpayers’, to fund a re-training programme for commercial airline pilots’?
    Normally this is done by the airlines’ concerned.

    What about other companies’ whose staff aren’t pilots’, but need re-training in their jobs?
    Aussie taxpayers’ have to foot those bills too?

    Typical TWU nonsense idea.

    • Richard Boulton


      Shows how little you know and just a chance to Union Bash the TWU which has nothing to do with this. It is The Australian Federation of Air Pilots NOT the TWU. I guess your desperation just makes you blame unions when you are talking a heap of rubbish. Get some facts straight eh.

      • Bryan


        Unions’ are all the same, no matter their name. Fact.
        They always want the taxpayer to fund their silly ideas’, when they talk rubbish. Fact.

        If they’re so enamoured with this thought, how about they use union money instead?
        That’d be the day when they dip into their own pockets! Fact.

        They only want to use member $ subs’ to take QANTAS to court for something that’s never going to eventuate. Fact.

        They’re useless, & irrelevant in today’s covid world. Fact.

    • andrew


      I couldn’t agree more with you Brian. Every time i hear a union say ‘the government needs to step up’ i know they are trying to make me pay for something they or their members don’t want to pay for themselves.
      If staying current is that vital to a pilots career i would have thought it would be in their best interest pay for themselves to stay current… you know so they ready when that rush comes.

  • David Palmer


    What a ‘sacred cow’, protected species pilots are along with their union. Taxpayers pay for pilot training so they can be re-employed, ready for when the airlines sting the taxpayer again when they take a holiday.
    It doesn’t sound fair does it?

  • Meepa


    Well, this is a small price to pay for the country to operate with more enhanced ‘velocity of money’ scenario.

    On the surface it seems a waste of money, as some have suggested, but take into account, the fact that most pilots WILL NEVER revieve anywhere near the amount of ‘other peoples tax money’ as ‘handouts’ from govt because of their wages; Oh dont forget the 47%+ tax rate not including the extra medicare charges for higher-income earners.

    Then for the most part all whining about a little job-ready help,should take another hard look at their own leeching off ‘the system’ before complaining!

  • Steven Culter


    Where are the unions talking about the ILLEGAL attempt to ‘mandate’ the experimental injection!!??

    There was ZERO talk about the long term effects of this. They are risking the industry collapsing when people get reinfected at higher rates and because of lower killer-T-cell count in double ‘jabbed’ people, they will have massive disruptions to all airlines silly-enough to push this onto their staff.

    Where is the long term studies? Why are other countries doing 3rd ‘jab’ already? Why are we not recognising other countries vaccine status? Wouldnt they work just like they are supposed to?? Dont you think other dam countries will do the same, rendering the ‘jab’ bloody useless?

    The entire group-think around this issue is frightening, especially from airlines that are supposed to be “risk adverse”. What every that means now.

    Foolish foolish foolish.

    • Trevor


      As every Country will mandate entry into it only by valid vaccinations’ as required, doubt your theory works.

      Airline staff want to travel, so they’ll get the ‘jab’ to do so.
      Same will happen for other passengers’ wanting to go overseas.

      Ever since the ‘Jet age’ came about in the late 1950’s, there’s been a mandatory requirement of vaccinations for various diseases’ eg Smallpox, Typhoid, Cholera, & Quinine for anti-malarial medication.

      Today’s world is no different.

Comments are closed.

You don't have credit card details available. You will be redirected to update payment method page. Click OK to continue.