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Low-cost airlines increase pilot shortage

experts say the low-cost airline model is exacerbating the pilot shortage that already exists and could become an even bigger problem for this country's aviation industry in the years ahead.

Emerging discount airlines such as Edmonton-based Flair Airlines, Calgary-based Lynx and WestJet subsidiary Swoop have expanded rapidly in Canada since the COVID-19 pandemic, betting that there is enough pent-up demand from budget-conscious travelers. to support additional capacity.

While each operates slightly differently, the basic premise of a low-cost airline is that travelers receive streamlined service in exchange for low base fares. Things like carry-on and checked baggage, snacks and beverages, and cancellation protection are considered extras and must be paid for separately.

The jury is still out on which, if any, of these emerging airlines will survive in a crowded field. But experts say the rapid proliferation of new flights and routes is putting pressure on the aviation job market, even for pilots.

"If I have a new airline starting with 10 planes, theoretically I need about 200 pilots," said Mike Doiron, president of Doiron Aviation Consulting, based in Moncton, N.B.

"And training new pilots doesn't happen overnight, even though the demand for pilots has skyrocketed."

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