How commercial airlines can increase attraction and prevent the brain drain to corporate and VIP aviation

We take a look at why commercial aviation staff often make the switch to corporate and VIP aviation, and what commercial airlines can do to keep staff.


Commercial airlines will have to do something fast if they’re to stem the brain drain to corporate and VIP aviation (CVA).

Essentially, a brain drain is a scenario where the best and brightest from one industry or location are tempted to switch en masse to an alternative sector or region.

This eventuality is particularly likely in instances where highly-skilled or qualified staff are required.

In short, a better offer comes along and the staff member decides to make a switch, taking with them skills and experience that can’t be easily replaced.

To combat this, recruiters and HR staff must improve their employment packages to make more attractive propositions that will encourage employees to stay in their role.

Here, we’ll introduce you to some of the steps you can take to stop your best staff switching to CVA:

How can commercial airlines staffing packages compete against corporate and VIP aviation offers?

There are some aspects of CVA – the clientele, exclusivity and job versatility to name a few – that you just won’t be able to compete with.

However, there are plenty of ways you can fine tune your employer brand to maximise the chances of retaining your most talented staff:


Commercial airlines provide opportunities for progression that are different from those in CVA.

For example, cabin crew can be put in charge of a higher number of staff as they gain seniority, or make the change to a ground-based position such as base supervisor or crew controller.

Give these opportunities for progression prominence in both your job ads and info for current employees. This will give them an incentive to join, stay loyal and progress with the company.


Most commercial airline staff – excluding pilots – such as cabin crew,  receive lower salaries than their corporate and VIP counterparts.

With skills at a premium in this candidate-led job market, you will need to think carefully about overall returns.

Could offering your staff a slight salary increase help you improve the attractiveness of your package and general retention to the point where operational disruption and even regulatory fines could be avoided?

Flexible working

CVA staff have to be immensely versatile: ready to travel to far-flung airports for a trip without a defined itinerary, at a moment’s notice.

Unlike CVA, commercial aviation requires staff to be flexible within a relatively defined framework. This model can be especially beneficial for people with families or other responsibilities.

Review your flexible working processes and make sure you promote the options your employees have in your job ads and internal corporate literature.

Sense of duty

Pay and perks are on one side of the coin, but one thing that attracts employees to an airline is their sense of duty and legacy.

Think about your story, and those of your passengers. You help families and old friends cross continents to be reunited, and support people in making new lives (or, at the very least, unforgettable memories).

Make your staff feel like they’re part of these experiences by sharing your story regularly at staff meetings, and in your recruitment literature.

Integrate these factors into your overall recruitment strategy and you can vastly increase the chances of attracting new candidates to the role and preventing your most talented staff from switching to CVA.

Get the expert aviation recruitment insight you need to optimise your staffing strategy by calling on AeroProfessional.

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