An important question facing the airline industry is not whether it will face a pilot shortage, but when it will begin.
With the number of flights reduced to a fraction of what they were before the pandemic, it's hard to imagine that there could be a pilot shortage on the horizon. As of February, global airlines were only flying at about 47% of pre-Covid capacity, based on our own analysis of data from OAG and the International Air Transport Association. But by 2025, after global demand in domestic and international travel expands beyond 2019 levels, we expect a worldwide shortfall of at least 34,000 commercial pilots — almost 10% of the total workforce. That gap, which will begin to be felt as early as next year, is based on a modest recovery scenario. If we were to see a more rapid recovery, that shortage could reach 50,000.