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Turkey looks to protect domestic airlines by restricting rules for pilots to work abroad

Pegasus Airlines' pilots will be affected by the new Turkish government ruling ©AirTeamImages

The Turkish government has taken relatively draconian steps to stop an exodus of its home-grown pilots from working for foreign carriers as demand for travel ramps up worldwide. Turkish pilots are especially sought after by Gulf state carriers and North American airlines. Last month, Germany said it will fast-track work permits and visas for several thousand foreign airport workers, mainly from Turkey, to help to ease summer travel chaos.

The Turkish government has now made it impossible for pilots to leave their employment with a Turkish carrier unless the carrier provides them with a consent letter. While pilots will still be permitted to resign their position with a Turkish carrier, without the consent letter from their employer, the Turkish government will delay the processing of their application for verification, which would be required by the pilots’ new employers.

Carriers across the globe are struggling to recruit sufficient staff to cope with the bigger-than expected-surge in post COVID-19 air travel. As examples, at the beginning of the year American startup discount carrier Avelo was prepared to offer a 50% increase in a standard captain’s pay and 30% for a first -year first officer, as well as a US$20,00 signing bonus. Breeze, another American startup carrier was offering just over a 30% jump in an Airbus A220 captain’s pay, while Sun Country boosted first-year salaries between 35% and 45%. In the regional sector, GoJet not only increased salaries last December, but it also increased signing bonuses to US$40,000 for captains and US$20,000 for first officers.

The Hava-Is union in Turkey has made it clear it considers this new restriction to be an intervention to pilots’ freedom of labour and individual rights and will be meeting with transportation ministry and civil aviation officials to discuss the changes. (£1.00 = US$1.20 at time of publication).

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