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Female PH pilots could help Asia’s travel boom


The Philippines’ largest flight school is trying to bring more women into the cockpit to help meet a shortage of pilots in Asia.

Details of the cockpit of a Singapore Airlines Ltd. Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner aircraft are seen during a media tour at Changi Airport in Singapore, on Wednesday, Mar. 28, 2018. Photographer: Ore Huiying/Bloomberg

At Alpha Aviation Group’s campus in Pampanga province north of the capital, one in five of its 550 students each year are women, whereas only about 3 percent of the world’s pilots are female, founder Bhanu Choudhrie said in an interview.

Choudhrie said the group holds recruitment programs at universities and invites female pilots to give career talks to students to encourage more women to apply. These initiatives aim to dispel the notion in the Philippines that only men can apply to flight school, he added.

Boeing Co. estimates Asia will require 266,000 more pilots by 2038, a third of the global shortage, as travel booms faster in the region than anywhere else. Understaffed airlines in the region have already been forced to cut flights due to the shortage. Some local carriers are setting up their own academies to produce more pilots.

Given widespread usage of English in the Philippines, the country is well placed to cater to regional low-cost carriers, which are now required by regulators to train their pilots in the language, Choudhrie said. The school already trains pilots for local carriers, as well as VietJet Air and AirAsia India.

The rise of low-cost carriers, which mostly fly short-haul flights within the region, also makes a career as a pilot more attractive for women who don’t want to be away from home for long periods of time, Choudhrie said.

“There is huge demand and men alone can’t fill that. It’s the women who will be the ones to drive this growth,” he said.

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