Exploring the aviation skills shortage in Asia

Get to grips with the aviation skills shortage in Asia, key contributing factors and how you can keep your hiring processes optimised when demand is high.


The aviation skills shortage in Asia could have a dramatic effect on the region’s capacity for development.

Many of the factors that are driving a global aviation skills shortage are magnified in Asia. Yet, it also represents the market with the greatest immediate capacity for growth.

Here, we’ll introduce you to some of the key factors and how they’re driving the aviation skills shortage in Asia.

What’s happening with the aviation skills shortage in Asia?

Aviation is a global industry where a variety of regional trends can have an international impact. However, these are some of the trends that are having a unique effect on the Asian aviation market today:

1) Demand is growing rapidly

The Asia-Pacific aviation market is set to balloon at a CAGR of 4.2% over the coming decade, compared to the global average of just 3.4%. This is equivalent to approximately 100 million new passengers each year.

Airbus and Boeing predict the region will require 200,000 – 226,000 new pilots alone within 20 years, with only 65,000 currently registered. 238,000 technicians will be required to service new aircraft, representing 40% of total global need (Asia Weekly).

China will become the largest global aviation market within five years, as well as the single biggest source of outbound passengers. Such growth will require 100,000 additional pilots and 106,000 new technicians (Asia Weekly).

2) Resources for aviation training are lacking

Airbus recently opened the world’s largest pilot training school in Singapore. The aircraft manufacturer hopes this centre will process up to 10,000 new pilots per year.

Despite this – and similar efforts by Boeing – Airbus CEO Fabrice Brégier still highlighted the ongoing “severe shortage” of skilled aviation staff in Asia when opening the new facility.

With demand far outstripping supply, Chinese airlines in particular have shown willingness to ‘poach’ recently trained staff from other regional markets. Some carriers – such as Cathay Pacific – are even choosing to absorb training costs in order to keep staffing levels up.

This problem goes beyond aviation, too. 96% of employers in Asia believe a lack of skills will impact on their bottom line in the near future, increasing competition for skilled staff across the board (Asia Weekly).

3) Developed markets can no longer supplement workforce

Asian airlines would once have looked to developed markets to make up staffing shortfalls. Today, the European and North American markets are facing a skills shortage of their own.

216,000 new pilots alone will be required across the regions within 20 years. However, multiple factors are stemming the flow of new pilots worldwide at present, including:

  • Increasingly strenuous working conditions
  • The rising cost of training
  • Higher numbers of retirees/staff leaving the industry

Ben Wong, COO of Hong Kong Airlines, believes “maintenance positions are among the hardest to fill”. Yet, for broadly similar reasons, there is a pronounced deficit of skilled MROs in these markets too.

You need a specialist aviation recruiter on your side to ride out the aviation skills shortage in Asia. Contact AeroProfessional in the UK, or come and speak to us at Aviation Festival Asia.

Find out how you can optimise your aviation employee hiring even when demand is high with a little help from AeroProfessional, the aviation people experts.

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