While many international airlines face a shortage of pilots, hundreds of fresh graduates from flying schools in Thailand and Malaysia have encountered severe difficulty securing employment with the respective local carriers. The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) estimates that 220 graduates with commercial pilots’ licenses remain jobless.
According to the president of the government-backed Civil Aviation Training Centre (CATC) in Bangkok, Priya Atmungkun, the number of jobless graduate pilots has increased to between 600 and 700 as training programs in the country have mushroomed in recent years.
Priya said many of the flying schools do not meet international standards, however, making it extremely difficult for the new graduates to secure employment.
CATC cannot say how many flying schools now operate in Thailand.
Rather than hiring self-funded pilot candidates, Thai Airways International and wholly-owned subsidiary low-cost carrier Nok Air send pilot candidates to flying schools chosen by the carriers, allowing them to track the progress of cadets until they complete their training.
Across the border in Malaysia, the number of jobless pilots has declined in recent years, although slow network expansion and local carriers’ preference for experienced pilots with current type ratings continue to make finding work for graduates of local schools difficult. Meanwhile, according to CAAM official Aziz Ibrahim, new pilots holding an Air Transport Pilot License (ATPL) must go through rigid pre-entry tests conducted by the respective airline before they gain employment and acknowledged that many candidates fail.