Rosaviatsia blocks the possibility of employment abroad for pilots sitting without work

 Rosaviatsia blocks the possibility of employment abroad for pilots sitting without work
Rosaviatsia blocks the possibility of employment abroad for pilots sitting without work
5 July, 12:39EconomyPhoto:
The Federal Air Transport Agency prevents the employment of Russian pilots left without work abroad.

Aircraft commanders and co-pilots who have been fired and sent to idle time are trying to go to work in foreign companies, but the Russian regulator does not confirm their qualifications at the request of foreign aviation authorities.

Julia Suntsova

According to trade unions, from a few dozen to several hundred employees faced the problem, although there is a demand for them. Since the beginning of March, Russia has received about 600 requests from Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia) and Turkey, but only about 100 people have been able to find a job.

As Kommersant found out , Russian pilots cannot confirm the validity of their certificates. The Federal Air Transport Agency, during the standard procedure for verifying a candidate at the request of a future employer, does not disclose to foreign colleagues data on the date of issue of a pilot's license and its relevance.

The Russian regulator explains its refusals by the “impossibility to disclose personal data”, in some cases, requests simply remain unanswered.

At the same time, the airlines themselves are not against the temporary employment of their released employees. For example, S7 sent about 20 pilots to the UAE for three months (until September). AirArabia signed a fixed-term contract with them. The airline said the partnership "will allow employees to practice English, learn from colleagues and share their professional experience".

The Federal Air Transport Agency and the Ministry of Transport do not comment on the information about the retention of pilots inside the country. However, from the approved government program for the development of the aviation industry until 2030, it follows that the aviation authorities are afraid of an excessive outflow of personnel abroad.

The document says that the ministry received about 70 requests per month from foreign aviation authorities with a request to confirm the certificates of specialists: “These circumstances indicate high risks of a shortage of pilots to ensure the volume of air traffic in the future”.

The desire to play it safe may also be related to the Ministry of Transport’s fears of disrupting the implementation of Vladimir Putin’s order to maintain the volume of traffic at 100 million passengers in 2022, observers note:

“Perhaps Neradko thought up the Ministry of Transport Vitaly Savelyev. The agency does not want to release labor from the country, fearing not to fulfill Putin's order to maintain the volume of traffic at 100 million passengers. But they also cannot provide pilots with work, forcing people to sit idle and without money.

There will be even less work for pilots in the country, and it is unlikely that the sabotage of requests from foreign companies will help the Federal Air Transport Agency to retain valuable personnel. The case when measures to support the industry should have been developed yesterday, but the Ministry of Transport and the Federal Air Transport Agency, as usual, missed the time. And now, instead of enlisting the loyalty of Russian pilots in the future, Savelyev and Neradko only turn them against themselves”, - the Provisional Government commented on the Telegram channel.

Industry experts note that the Federal Air Transport Agency has been ignoring requests from foreign aviation authorities for more than a year. Even before the start of the pandemic, the industry was experiencing a shortage of personnel - to such an extent that Russia itself was forced to hire foreign pilots. For health reasons, the flight crew annually leaves an average of 300 people. Many are retiring. 5.6 thousand out of 15 thousand commercial pilots in the Russian Federation are aged 50-59.

"In general, I do not see anything new in the actions of the Federal Air Transport Agency. We have seen all of this in 2017. Then the Russian authorities in the same way tried to stop the outflow of aircraft commanders, who left en masse to work in China and other Asian countries for better wages. Now the state continues to strengthen its position in the control of air transportation in Russia, and these transportations themselves are less and less reminiscent of an open market", - aviation expert Andrey Menshenin comments on NI. - The consequences can mainly affect flight safety. In a situation of excess personnel in the labor market, airlines will be easier to get rid of objectionable pilots who somehow irritate management. For example, given the upcoming complications with fleet maintenance, some airlines may experience a situation where a flight is operated on an aircraft without proper maintenance. If one of the aircraft commanders refuses to fly, it will be easier to replace him with the pilot who agrees.

Since the beginning of the special operation, the labor market for pilots has shrunk, not only external, but also internal routes have been closed.

Since March 2022, airlines have begun to send pilots on idle. The cessation of flights on almost all international flights (before the special operation, Russia flew to 60 countries, now to only 11) led to an immediate decrease in flight hours. And the income of pilots and crew members directly depends on the raid.

"Flight personnel are not fired. We have unemployment, as you know, not explicit, but hidden. The remaining load is distributed proportionally - smeared with a thin layer of plaque. In Aeroflot, in all large companies, their "daughters" have such a rule. This is a strict instruction from the flight operations manual. The pilots who are on the staff should fly approximately equally, which is, in principle, justified in civil aviation. How much is that from what it was? The norm was eighty hours a month, by agreement of the parties it was possible to increase the number of hours to ninety. Now about half of the norm remains. Since the salary of civilian pilots is calculated based on the norm-hour, and there is an almost direct relationship between flight time and income, respectively, if they began to fly half as much, then they began to receive also - half as much", - the honored pilot-tester, hero of Russia Alexander Garnayev says in an interview with Novye Izvestia.

On average, pilots' incomes in the industry have decreased by 40%, says Miroslav Boychuk, president of the trade union of Russian flight personnel. Earnings of pilots with permits for long-haul Boeing 777 and Airbus A350/330 aircraft fell even more significantly.

"Since 2008-2009, when Russian ships began to actively fly abroad, the salary of the crew commander, while fulfilling the flight norm, became equal to about 10 thousand dollars. Co-pilots receive different amounts in different companies, but less than crew commanders, as a rule, this is about 70% of the commander's salary. All changes in pay regulations revolved around this figure - 10 thousand dollars. The salary of Russian pilots has become comparable to the salary of European airlines. Developing companies in Asian countries interested in expats bought up the pilots, offering twice as much. The dollar exchange rate changed, payment in rubles changed. So they lived until the pandemic times, then everything collapsed sharply. After the lifting of pandemic restrictions, the industry began to recover. Now, in connection with the special operation, a new collapse", - says Alexander Garnayev.

Reducing passenger traffic and reducing the income of industry employees is one misfortune. With the imposition of sanctions, the EU has banned the sale of aircraft and spare parts to Russia, as well as the provision of insurance and maintenance services to Russian airlines, and this problem is already developing into the plane of air travel safety. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has already stated that Russia cannot fully ensure flight safety, and this threatens with problems with the passage of Russian ships into the airspace and airports of the countries-members of the convention.

Many pilots applied for resignation in the first month of sanctions, the airlines noted.

"Before the pandemic, there were about 15,000 pilots in Russia. During the pandemic, their number began to decline, because they stopped hiring young people. A huge number of young pilots, graduates of flight schools simply broke their fate. It was extremely difficult to get a job. Companies supported experienced pilots. Do not fire them in order to take in return the young and without experience. It is difficult to say how many pilots are actually working now, since many are considered employed, but do not actually fly. I believe that we have the same number of pilots who openly did not declare anything, but they no longer have work", - says Alexander Garnayev. - Only a decade ago, there were not enough pilots, and the schools doubled the enrollment. These people now have a professional career ruined. They survived employment in the company, but they were never put into service, they never began to fly due to the reduction in the volume of flights. I don't even know how to talk to them, I'm in tears. They can't help...

As a support measure, the Government proposed the Program for the Development of the Air Transport Industry, it is planned to allocate more than 770 billion rubles, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced on June 27, 2022. The authorities hope to increase passenger traffic and increase the share of domestic aircraft in the fleets of Russian carriers from the current 33% to 81%.

But right now, airlines are doing badly. In the first quarter of 2022 alone, their operating loss amounted to 61.1 billion rubles, which is a record for the last 8 years.

The Federal Air Transport Agency has suspended the monthly publication of statistics on the transportation of passengers by air - the last time the data was published in February.

According to the Association of Air Transport Operators (AEVT), the decline in Russian passenger traffic in 2022 compared to 2021 has the following structure:

  • March - minus 20%
  • April - minus 28%
  • May - minus 24%
  • June - already minus 20%

Passenger traffic for January-May by major airlines:

  • Aeroflot — 5.94 million people (minus 5% yoy)
  • S7 Airlines - 5.75 million people (minus 10.9%)
  • Victory - 4.65 million people (minus 7.1%)

Neither promotions, nor discounts, nor an increase in the number of flights help to compensate for the closure of international destinations.

The S7 company is trying to make money on a paid menu. A bottle of water with a volume of 0.33 liters costs 150 rubles, a package of Tis-Tas sweets costs 200 rubles, and chicken with spaghetti costs 500 rubles. In order to cut costs, the airline has already abandoned the launch of its low-cost airline and actually closed its subsidiary S7 Space, laying off several dozen people.

The program developed by the government to support the aviation industry, taking into account huge budget injections, predicts passenger traffic for 2030 at only 116.1 million people - this is 9% less than in pre-demand 2019.

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