A global pilot shortage could lead to Rex Airlines discontinuing their service in Whyalla in the future.
Chief Operating Officer Neville Howell recently accused international airlines Qantas and Virgin of causing causing ‘widespread chaos and disruptions’ to regional air travel by ‘poaching’ their pilots.
When asked how this might affect Rex’s service in Whyalla, a spokesperson said ‘if it comes to a point where there just are not enough pilots, then something will have to give’.
Fortunately, Rex has no plans to change anything about their Whyalla service in the short term. Both Rex and QantasLink run flights from Whyalla to Adelaide and Adelaide to Whyalla.
Mr Howell said that regional airlines like QantasLink and Rex had been hardest hit by the global pilot shortage due to pilot poaching.
“In the past two years, (Qantas and Virgin) collectively have poached 17 per cent and 56 per cent of Rex’s First Officer and Captain establishment respectively,” he said.
“Because of the critical pilot shortage, Rex is not able to have its usual contingent of stand-by pilots rostered for duty. Any last-minute sick leave may result in flights being cancelled or combined with other routes.”
Mr Howell said Rex would redouble their efforts in pursuing all options for pilot recruitment, including overseas recruitment.
“We will also be reviewing our network with a view to trimming our schedule where possible to conserve resources,” he said.
In a statement, Qantas said it was ‘strange for a company to blame its competitor for its employee retention problems’.
“It’s natural to see some movement between airlines from people seeking advancement, just like in every other industry,” they said.
“No Australian airline invests more in training pilots than the Qantas Group, and we’ve been doing that for almost 100 years.
“Our $20 million Pilot Academy will train pilots not just for the Qantas Group but for the industry more broadly, up to 500 a year.”