Is Ek leading the way?

As a pilot who spent the most significant portion his career in Emirates, I still tend to keep my ear to the ground as to what’s happening in the Sandpit. While rumors abound and scuttlebutt is ever present, I’m hearing from a couple of sources both inside and outside Ek of developments in the pilot recruitment market.

– Emirates recently wrote to it’s pilots seeking feedback on any friends or compatriots back in the home countries who might be willing to fill slots in the airline in the coming months. In thirteen years I don’t recall this ever happening and this unusual event is probably the progenitor for the recent series of YouTube videos ( 1 2 3 4 5 6 ) on recruitment into a un-mentioned Dubai based international carrier. I don’t know if you found them funny but as someone who caught all the references, I was wetting myself. Except “The BBQ” – boys, what’s the reference to the BBQ?

If you haven’t seen these movies then I suggest you pop over now, as there have been at least two such occasions in the past where such videos have not lasted long on the net. I don’t know who put these together, but this pilot is either ex-Ek or has more front the Myers.

– As a result of a couple of well publicized incidents, and several non public ones, Ek raised it’s recruitment hour minimums as well as the minimum requirements for Command. This left not a few FO’s dis-advantaged and seriously un-happy. I’m now hearing that these minimums are being re-evaluated. Reportedly the recruitment target for this year has gone from something approaching 30 pilots to something well short of ten times that number, necessitating a goal post shifting in hitherto unusual direction. Additionally it depends on who you talk to, but it would seem the monthly flying hours of a good portion of the crew, particularly the 777 fleet, would justify the reported lack of manpower at the moment.

All this is every interesting for those FO’s in Ek approaching upgrade, or pilots outside the company seeking employment, but what about the rest of us? Is this indicating a more substantial recovery across the industry at large in the wings? The US market still seems soft, and similar noises aren’t coming from Europe. However recruitment does seems to have begun in Asia once more, with this pilot having received two e-mail contracts in the last couple of weeks, although with salary packages below what was being offered three years ago. If the industry is turning, it will be signaled by recovering markets in the Middle East and Asia …

Such trends take a long time to manifest themselves back here in the land of Oz, but perhaps with the Middle East Airline Monsters recruiting more heavily as this year wears on, we might see a softening in airline management attitude in Australia as more and more Australian airline pilots look back overseas again for greener pastures in the … desert.