Turkish pilots who have struggled to find work in their own country are leaving Turkey “in droves” for better opportunities abroad, Duvar English reported on Thursday.
The vast decrease in flight traffic during the Covid-19 pandemic, and all the accompanying restrictions, made it extremely difficult for Turkish pilots to find work in their own country.
The report notes that the worst period for airlines in Turkey was in April 2020, when flights in the country decreased by almost 90% compared to the previous year. This left thousands of pilots out of work for months during that global pandemic.
Even though lockdowns are lifted and people have started traveling again, flights in Turkey are still more than 10% less than they were in 2019.
Duvar English cited Murat Ersoy, the President of the Turkish Airline Pilots Association (TALPA), who said that some pilots have taken pay cuts as high as 50%. Others have had to work part-time or only receive payments for the hours they fly.
Given this untenable situation, many Turkish pilots have sought work abroad. The FlyDubai airline in the United Arab Emirates expressed surprise by how many applications they received from Turkish pilots.
Duvar notes this is unsurprising since salaries for airline pilots in the Middle East are presently 4-5 times higher than in Turkey.
Ersoy said the mass departure of Turkish pilots from the country is very bad for Turkey’s airline industry since new pilots are difficult to train.
“Salaries abroad are offered to pilots in dollars and under very good conditions […] It is bad for qualified personnel to go to another country,” he said. “It’s a terrible situation. It is not easy to train a pilot.”
“Having expert pilots, pilots who have spent years in the profession, go abroad is a great loss,” he added.