Airline pilot shortages on the horizon in the Middle East


Dubai, UAE – In a newly released update on pilot shortages in the aviation sector, global management consultancy Oliver Wyman found that, as air travel demand continues to recover this year, demand for airline pilots will outstrip supply in most regions globally between 2022 and 2024 – with the Middle East feeling the effects first.

According to André Martins, Partner – Head of IMEA Transportation and Services at Oliver Wyman, “We expect the Middle East to be the region affected soonest by the shortage outside of North America, driven by a projected sharp increase in air travel demand over the next few years, new players entering the market and big tourism developments happening in the region”.

The new figures from Oliver Wyman show that this spike in demand for air travel coincides with flat then declining supply of pilots in the region, due to a combination of lay-offs during the COVID-19 pandemic, a falling number of newly-certified pilots, and retirements eventually outstripping new pilots. The regional shortage could start as early as the end of this year, reaching an estimated 3,000 pilots by 2023 and 18,000 by 2032 if no accelerated mitigation actions are taken.

“If demand for air travel continues to grow, airlines need to accelerated recruiting efforts from other regions where we anticipate less acute shortages, particularly Latin America and Asia Pacific, to fill gaps. Failing that, we may see adjustment of schedules into and out of the region, impacting the Middle East’s carriers and airport operators” added Martins.

Oliver Wyman forecasted in early 2021 that an impending pilot shortage was on the horizon, contrary to reality at the time, as COVID-19 was decimating the airline industry and any recovery appeared years away. We are now predicting global aviation to be short nearly 80,000 pilots by 2032, absent a downturn in future demand or air travel and/or strenuous efforts by the industry to bolster the supply of pilots. 

The updated report on pilot shortages can be found at:


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