Plan B for pilots and cabin crews who lost their jobs during the pandemic

2021/08/16 at 11:07 AM

The ongoing pandemic has caused, probably, the worst crisis for the passenger airlines. As a result, jobless pilots and flight attendants are being forced to use their honed skills on the ground. Some of them are still useful in the transport industry but in the new roles.

Recently, the UK-based Goose Recruitment kicked off a campaign to find 30 Boeing 737 cargo pilots for a client in Europe. The recruitment company received 400 CVs within 48 hours. Most of the applicants used to fly commercial passenger jets. The job, which most passenger jets pilots used to look down before the coronavirus outbreak, is so desirable now.

Bloomberg writes that the number of job applications from aviators from Europe, Brazil, Mexico and Canada during recruitment of pilots for Chinese and Japanese airlines has jumped by at least 30 times comparing to the data before the pandemic.

Peter Login, a former pilot, drives lorries, source: Peter Login (@pjlogin)

According to the forecast, the global demand for pilots could exceed supply from 2022. Few big airlines already announced that they are going to hire pilots during the upcoming years (American Airlines, Ryanair, Delta Air Lines etc.). But not every today’s jobless pilot will be able to benefit from this advantage. Airline pilots must typically pass two proficiency checks a year. Also, additional qualifications tied to specific aircraft types can expire in 12 or 24 months. A survey in January discovered that more than half of the world’s commercial pilots could no longer earn for living by flying.

There is no good news for these high-qualified specialists, especially in Europe. The European and Middle Asian aviation markets show the slowest recovery among other world regions. This forces the passenger airline pilots to change their entire lives.


Meanwhile, the European railways are in desperate need for train drivers. As a result, more and more airline pilots change their “flying” seats to the “grounded” ones. Deutsche Bahn told the German news agency DPA recently that it had received job applications from 1,500 former pilots and flight attendants. Among them, it had hired about 280 staff, including 55 pilots and 107 former cabin crew.

Dennis Seidel is one of them. DB found his story in German media. He worked for 10 years as a pilot for LGW, a subsidiary of the former German airline Air Berlin. Now he is nearing completion of his training as a train driver. “Tasks are pretty similar. Train drivers have an equally responsible job as pilots,” he says.

27-year-old tram driver Felician Baumann finished his pilot training in Austrian Airlines. When the pandemic started he refocused his career to public transport. Now he is an employee of Vienna-based public transport operator Wiener Linien. Surprisingly he earns only marginally less than he would have gotten as a first officer. However, people at the same position in other countries are not so lucky.

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Another example is 26-year-old Chris Clements who had served as EasyJet’s cabin crew for seven years was one of the 1,900 UK based staff who lost their jobs when the airline closed its bases at Newcastle, Stansted and Southend. But his experience with passengers came useful at his new position of Customer Services Manager at Tyne and Wear Metro. He even became a face of a new marketing campaign to welcome more customers back to Metro as lockdown eases.


The story of Aaron Leventhal, the 36-year-old former Flybe pilot, got big feedback. While working as an HGV driver he earned money for pilot training which took 10 years. He got a job at Flybe but 13 months later the airline fell into administration. Disable to extend his pilot’s license due to the Covid-19 restrictions, Aaron had to go back to driving lorries.

British Airways pilot Peter Login also became famous after changing Boeing 747’s steering wheel to a food delivery truck’s one when the lockdown began. The man started working in BA in January 2020 after he had been made redundant by Thomas Cook. After losing the possibility to fly he decided to serve people during the quarantine and became the delivery van driver. Peter’s Twitter is popular and full of wishes to return to the sky and the man seems to be determined to get back to the aicraft cockpit soon.

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