Be careful in approving new flying schools, says ex-aviation authority chief

Former CAAM chairman Azharuddin Abd Rahman says there had been an increase in demand for commercial pilots over the past year.

LANGKAWI: The government should take a cautious approach in considering approvals to open flying schools despite the surge in the demand for commercial pilots in the past year, said a former Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) chairman.

Azharuddin Abd Rahman, who is now the chairman of the Layang-Layang Flying Academy, said this was to avoid issues in the past, where there was an oversupply of pilots and insufficient jobs.

Over the past year, Azharuddin, who resigned as CAAM chairman last year,
said there had been an increase in demand for commercial pilots as airlines were increasing capacity, with more planes and routes.

“There are also pilots retiring and the movement of our pilots to other countries,” he told FMT on the sidelines of the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace exhibition 2019 (Lima ’19).

Malaysian pilots, he said, were very marketable as the examinations which they needed to pass were benchmarked to the European Aviation Safety Agency’s standards, with many being poached by the Middle East, Hong Kong, and Taiwan airlines.

In Malaysia alone, Azharuddin said, two local airlines had told him they needed more than 150 cadet pilots each within the next few years.

He added the demand wasn’t just for Malaysia and the region, but worldwide.

Still, Azharuddin said, there was a need for caution as the aviation industry was very cyclical and that while there was a demand now, just a few years ago there were many flying graduates but insufficient jobs.

It was previously reported that there were over 1,000 jobless flying graduates and also many flying schools.

“At one time, we had eight fixed-wing flying schools, now we only have three. I think, for now, we have enough flying schools.”

Azharuddin said the existing flying schools could also not simply expand as it could lead to an oversupply of pilots and a repeat of what happened in the past.

He hoped that incentives could be given to flying schools to help them reduce their costs and ultimately bring down the price of the costs of courses, which are around RM360,000 on average.