[Top Story] September 22, 2023, 3:13 pm ET.By John McDermott.
Middle Eastern airline giant Emirates is the latest company to put out a call for direct entry captains. The company is looking for pilots to command its Airbus A380 aircraft. Emirates is the largest operator of the A380 in the world, with 260 aircraft.
Emirates has placed significant minimums on the position; the ideal candidate has at least 7,000 hours flying multi-crew, multi-engine aircraft. Having 3,000 hours in command of Airbus widebody aircraft, such as the A330, A340, A350, and A380, is an additional requirement.
In addition to the Direct Entry Captain program, Emirates is also offering an Accelerated Command Program: current Airbus captains who have 1,500 hours in Airbus fly-by-wire aircraft can join Emirates as A380 officers and upgrade to captain after 700 flight hours and two successful recurrent checks.
Filling Captain Gaps
Emirates already has 1,515 A380 pilots. However, as with many other airlines around the world, Emirates has been forced to grapple with a travel rebound years ahead of expected initial forecasts after the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Many airlines around the world offered early retirement to pilots in 2020 and 2021 to cut costs with the expectation that air travel would not rebound until 2023 or 2024. However, when passengers took to the skies en masse in 2021, companies were found with a shortage of pilots that eventually manifested as a shortage of captains. Regional airline captains upgraded to mainline carriers faster than regional first officers could upgrade to replace them. However, the massive retirement packages offered to senior captains also meant that there are not enough captains to fill the sudden return to flying, let alone massive aircraft orders, airlines have implemented in the past couple of years.