Australian airline Qantas is planning to open a new pilot academy in 2019, capable of training up to 500 cadet pilots a year.
The Qantas Group Pilot Academy is expected to open its doors to students during 2019 and is likely to be established near an existing airfield in regional Australia to provide easy access to uncongested airspace. It will represent an initial investment of up to $20 million.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the academy would become a critical part of the national carrier’s long term talent pipeline – and an important resource for Australian aviation.
“Qantas has a proud history of having some of the best pilots in the world and we want to make sure it stays that way,” said Mr Joyce. “By creating our own academy, we can train the next generation of pilots to the Qantas Group standard.
“Boeing estimates the world will need about 640,000 more pilots in the next 20 years, with 40 per cent in the Asia Pacific region. That level of demand makes the academy important not just for Qantas but for Australian aviation more broadly so that all parts of the industry have access to qualified pilots in a country that relies so heavily on air transport.
“Over time, we see potential for the academy to become a competitive advantage for Australia in the region. It could train pilots for other airlines and grow into the largest academy of its kind in the southern hemisphere.”
The academy will initially train around 100 pilots a year for direct entry into the Qantas Group, including Jetstar and regional carrier, QantasLink. Depending on demand from other parts of the aviation industry, this could grow to 500 pilots a year on a fee-for-service basis.
Mr Joyce said that addressing the gender imbalance among pilots – with a global average of 97 per cent males in the profession – would be key to meeting market demand.
“If we’re leaving out almost 50 per cent of the population in our search for the next generation of 640,000 pilots, we’re clearly not tapping into all of the talent that’s available,” he said. “As an industry, we need to do a much better job of encouraging women to become pilots.”
In late 2017, Qantas announced the Nancy Bird Walton initiative – named after the pioneering Australian aviator – to improve on its 5 per cent proportion of female pilots. It commits the Qantas Group to a 20 per cent intake of qualified women in its 2018 Future Pilot Programme and to reach at least 40 per cent over the next decade.