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Philippines flight school readies recruits as global travel sees brighter skies

Philippines flight school readies recruits as global travel sees brighter skies

Wednesday, November 10, 2021, 09:23 GMT+7
Philippines flight school readies recruits as global travel sees brighter skies
Cadet Casey Abadilla, a flight student, operates a flight simulator while wearing a mask for protection against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Alpha Aviation Group campus in Clark, Pampanga province, Philippines, November 3, 2021. Photo: Reuters

PAMPANGA, Philippines -- With travel demand expected to grow as countries rush to reopen to international visitors, an aviation school in the Philippines is stepping up its training to try to head off problems from a global pilot shortage.

Travel restrictions imposed to fight COVID-19 have caused major disruption to the aviation sector, with aircraft grounded worldwide and many pilots no longer flying, having been laid off, furloughed or forced to find employment elsewhere.

"The important thing for us to do is to get ourselves prepared and be ahead of the herd," said Lev Albarece, head of training at Alpha Aviation Group, a pilot school with hubs in the Philippines, Britain and the Middle East.

"We have to be ahead of the line and be ready for the next hiring surge."

Cadet Casey Abadilla, wearing a mask and gloves as part of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) protocols, steps out of a flight simulator at the Alpha Aviation Group campus in Clark, Pampanga province, Philippines, November 3, 2021. Photo: Reuters

Cadet Casey Abadilla, wearing a mask and gloves as part of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) protocols, steps out of a flight simulator at the Alpha Aviation Group campus in Clark, Pampanga province, Philippines, November 3, 2021. Photo: Reuters

Expanded vaccinations and an easing of restrictions in many countries has seen global demand for flights grow and airlines racing to restart routes after a lengthy hiatus.

Flights in the Philippines fell dramatically at the start of the pandemic, with no signs the country plans to reopen to foreign visitors or business travellers anytime soon.

Chief Flight Instructor Frank Desiderio, wearing a mask for protection against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), operates a flight simulator at the Alpha Aviation Group campus in Clark, Pampanga province, Philippines, November 3, 2021. Photo: Reuters

Chief Flight Instructor Frank Desiderio, wearing a mask for protection against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), operates a flight simulator at the Alpha Aviation Group campus in Clark, Pampanga province, Philippines, November 3, 2021. Photo: Reuters

Only 100 students have enrolled this year at Alpha's local training facility, a third of pre-pandemic levels, with costly fees and job uncertainty deterring potential pilots.

But at Alpha's school in Pampanga province, northwest of Manila, its full-motion Airbus flight simulators have been running all day to get trainees ready for real-world scenarios.

The programme involves simulators, classroom lectures, and flights in Cessna aircraft.

Cadet Casey Abadilla, a flight student, operates a flight simulator beside an instructor, both wearing masks for protection against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Alpha Aviation Group campus in Clark, Pampanga province, Philippines, November 3, 2021. Photo: Reuters

Cadet Casey Abadilla, a flight student, operates a flight simulator beside an instructor, both wearing masks for protection against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Alpha Aviation Group campus in Clark, Pampanga province, Philippines, November 3, 2021. Photo: Reuters

"Everything is uncertain. To me, there isn't really a perfect timing to do everything," said Casey Abadilla, 22, a flight student.

"Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith with the right amount of courage and hard work and hope for the best."

Students train in a flight simulator at the Alpha Aviation Group campus in Clark, Pampanga province, Philippines, November 3, 2021. Photo: Reuters

Students train in a flight simulator at the Alpha Aviation Group campus in Clark, Pampanga province, Philippines, November 3, 2021. Photo: Reuters

Reuters

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