Carriers like Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific are expected to outsource more of their support functions like pilot training to third party service providers in the coming years to be able to focus more on their core business of “selling seats” and flying passengers from one point to another.
Thus said officials of European aircraft manufacturing giant Airbus, which entered into a joint venture deal with Singapore Airlines, to set up a flight simulator-based training facility in Singapore’s Seletar Aerospace Park to cater to the growing needs of regional airlines.
“The Asia-Pacific region will receive 40 percent of all global aircraft deliveries over the next 20 years,” Airbus Asia Training Centre general manager Yann Lardet said in a briefing for Soputheast Asian journalists. “The in-service fleet in the region will grow from 5,700 [aircraft] to 14,700.”
These new aircraft orders are expected to have a cumulative value of $2.2 trillion, making the region a linchpin of growth not only for large manufacturers like Airbus and Boeing, but also other allied service providers in the industry.
Because of this, the flight crew population is seen rising to rise to meet the demand. About 232,000 new pilots will be required over the next two decades based on the airlines’ aircraft orders and pilot attrition rates.
Lardet said that, on the average, each commercial aircraft needed at least 12 pilot for airlines to be able to maximize its use.
Aside from requiring improved aviation infrastructure across the region to cope with this massive fleet buildup, airlines will also have to ramp up the hiring of more pilots and flight crew, the training for which needs to be cost-efficient—hence the business model of providing an outsourcing facility for pilot training.
So far, 28 carriers—mostly based in the Asia-Pacific, but also some European operators—have signed up with the Airbus Asia Training Center for their flight training needs, including Philippine Airlines, PAL Express and Cebu Pacific for their Airbus A330 medium-range and A320 short-range aircraft.
Philippine Airlines is also expected to use the Airbus facility for the training of its pilots once it takes delivery of its Airbus A350 XWB ultra long haul aircraft in 2018, six of which have been ordered, while another six may be added.
“The ongoing growth in the Asia-Pacific is strong,” Lardet said, noting that regional airline growth was seen to lead the rest of the world by 2035. “We expect the annual traffic in the region to grow by an average of 5.5 percent, while the rest of the world grows at only 4.5 percent.”
At present, 31 percent of all Airbus aircraft on order will go to Asia-Pacific carriers, along with 33 percent of all the company’s production backlog, and 33 percent of all aircraft currently in service.
“This region is a core market for Airbus, and will continue to be so in the future” he said.