Alliance Airlines has said it will offer pilots new perks to join and stay with the airline after claiming overseas airlines continue to poach its staff.
The airline has pledged to increase “non-monetary” incentives to boost pilot retention, as well as drive recruitment and training efforts, after “a number” of its pilots left the airline to “take roles overseas”.
It comes as the industry navigates a global shortage of qualified pilots, that has seen international airlines, including Emirates and US regional carriers, add to the local problem by actively poaching Australian pilots.
“These resignations [have] impacted both the training and the activity pipelines,” Alliance noted in its financial results posting for the 2022 financial year.
As such, Alliance said that moving forward it would renew a “focus on increasing recruitment of pilots”, and “non-monetary incentivisation for pilots to stay with Alliance Airlines”.
Just days earlier, Virgin Australia began recruiting new first officers to crew its growing fleet of Boeing 737 MAX jets with the “lowest minimum” flight-hour requirements seen in recent times for narrow-body aircraft, as it attempts to entice new talent into its pilot cohort.
Meanwhile, Alliance has also begun to utilise E190 simulator facilities at Gatwick Airport in the UK to “increase training throughput”, with up to 44 pilots to be trained up overseas.
Alliance has rapidly expanded its E190 fleet to 24 aircraft with another nine on order.
It comes months after Australian Aviation reported that the carrier was eyeing the possibility of poaching pilots from the UK, after a UK recruitment agency — claiming to operate on behalf of Alliance — began offering British pilots major perks to fly the carrier’s E190s.
Perks included accommodation in serviced apartments and access to regular Qantas flights back home to England.
Notably, the UK would have a pool of type-rated and experienced E190 pilots given the fact that regional carrier Flybe had 25 Embraer E-jet aircraft before going under in 2020, while British Airways’ regional arm BA CityFlyer currently operates 24 E190s.
At that time, emails to prospective employees, seen by Australian Aviation, stated it’s seeking both captains and first officers for 12-month contracts in Darwin and Adelaide with up to 30 roles on offer under an unspecified short-term skilled worker visa program.
Alliance denies that it has hired UK pilots.
According to Kirsty Ferguson, founder of aviation recruitment firm Pinstripe Solutions, it is “very rare” for overseas pilots to be hired in Australia, when more often the opposite is true, and Australian pilots are recruited to overseas airlines.
However, earlier this year, the Department of Home Affairs confirmed to Australian Aviation that pilots remain on the list of approved occupations for skilled migration, allowing organisations to hire from overseas using “a number of temporary visa options” once certain conditions are met.
Meanwhile, Alliance posted an underlying profit before tax of $45.3 million, beside an underlying loss before tax of $7.1 million.
Alliance’s bottom line was largely bolstered by a massive 610 per cent increase in revenue from its standing wet lease agreements with Qantas and Virgin.
“The increase in wet lease revenue can be attributed to an increase in aircraft utilisation, increases in the aircraft options exercised by Qantas and an increase in hours operated for Virgin Australia,” Alliance noted.
Meanwhile, the carriers contract work for fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) operations also increased by 20 per cent.
Earlier this year, after expanding its wet lease agreement with the carrier and seeing its 19.9 per cent stake approved by the ACCC, Qantas made a bid to purchase the remaining 80.1 per cent stake in Alliance, which would see the carrier become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Flying Kangaroo.
The competition watchdog is due to announce a decision on the matter this month.