The real cost of training

August 22, 2016 in News for Candidates, News for Clients

The real cost of training

Training Room

Skilled employees are vital to running a successful airline, but they cannot acquire those skills without training.

How much does high-quality training really cost, and what role should airlines play in funding it?

How much does aviation industry training cost?


It costs £40,000 – £120,000 to train a commercial pilot[1]. Most airlines now also ask pilots to obtain a specific type rating relevant to the aircraft in their fleet. This adds another £20,000 – £42,000[2][3] to the cumulative total. On average, the complete cost of training for new pilots is £60,000 – £162,000.

Pilots are expected to begin paying back this amount on a comparatively low starting salary of around £28,000[4] pa – if they are able to find work. Many newly-qualified pilots are being turned away by airlines, as they are yet to build up a sufficient number of flying hours.

Air Traffic Control (ATC)

ATCs have to achieve an ATCO Licence before being allowed to work in a control tower.

National Air Traffic Services (NATS) – the biggest ATC course provider – states that the course is free for all applicants who pass, though course completion rates are typically less than 0.7%. In the U.S., non-nationals are charged £27,000 in course fees for an equivalent ATC course.

Cabin Crew

Cabin crew training costs approximately £1,800[5] through a third-party agency. However, training centres are limited, and candidates are also expected to cover accommodation and living costs for the duration of a six-week course.

How can these costs be recouped?

Such sums would be almost unnoticeable on an airline’s balance sheet, but have the potential to put a prospective candidate into financial hardship for many years.

If airlines chose to cover the costs of training for prospective staff, there are a number of ways they can recoup their investment, including:

Regularity of service

On average, the aviation industry loses £17 billion a year[6] due to service disruption. However, with a regular supply of skilled new staff members, airlines are much less likely to fall foul of regulatory fines and other costs associated with inconsistent service. These include:

  • £41,800 to ground an Airbus A380 for just a few hours[7]
  • £20,842 per passenger when a flight is delayed by over four hours (in the U.S.)[8]
  • £330,000 to ground a Boeing 747 (high density one-class configuration) for over three hours in the EU[9]

Staff morale

Paying for training will boost morale long-term as it enables employees to establish their careers without worries surrounding debt. This will help them to focus and continue their professional development.

It would also show how much your company values its staff, enabling you to build a loyal and trusting relationship with your employees and increasing the chances they’ll stay with your company for longer. In turn, this is likely to minimise the costs of repeat hiring, and enable you to maximise the lifetime value of each employee.

Morale can also have a pronounced impact on productivity. Happy staff are 22% more productive than unhappy staff, meaning you can squeeze more than fifth extra value out of each employee.

Comparing the initial cost of training personnel to the potential value they can bring over time, it’s clear that airlines could lose out by continuing to shift the cost of training onto prospective employees. By alleviating the financial burden of training costs, airlines could increase staff loyalty and productivity, helping to minimise the effects of the growing skills shortage.

Call on AeroProfessional and find out how we can help you get maximum value from each new recruit.


[1]!becoming-an-airline-pilot-faq/c1at8 [2]!pay-to-fly/c1ntr [3] [4] [5] [6] [7][8] [9]

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