The impact of the pandemic on the aviation industry job market

Friday, July 28, 2023

Cabin crew member working on board plane in face mask

After years of record traffic growth and profitability, the aviation industry faced the sharpest and most sustained fall in air traffic demand as the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc with international travel in 2020.

Under normal circumstances, aviation and the tourism it facilitates supports 87.7 million jobs worldwide. Over 11 million of those jobs are within the sector itself including employment at airlines, airports, air traffic management and civil aerospace manufacturers.

Despite the furlough scheme, thousands of job losses have already been announced by major airlines, including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and American Airlines.

Executive Director of the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group, Michael Gill said, “Our analysis shows that up to 4.8 million jobs in aviation may be lost by the beginning of 2021, a 43% reduction from pre-COVID levels.”

He continued, “When you expand those effects across all the jobs aviation would normally support, 46 million jobs are at risk. These include highly-skilled aviation roles, the wider tourism jobs impacted by the lack of air travel and employment throughout the supply chain in construction, catering supplies, professional services and all the other things required to run a global transport system.”

The UK government has come under fire several times throughout the year, accused of failing on key issues including airport testing and last minute changes to quarantine rules. In September, the head of Southampton, Aberdeen and Glasgow airports accused ministers of "overseeing the demise of UK aviation.”

The response to the pandemic is an ever changing situation but with the near total shutdown of worldwide travel for several months, coupled with health concerns and the uncertainty on quarantine rules, some experts predict that air travel will not recover to pre-COVID levels until around 2024.

However, others remain defiant and anticipate the industry to bounce back a lot quicker, particularly with the rollout of a UK vaccine from December 2020. Within just 24 hours of the Pfizer vaccine announcement in November 2020, TravelSupermarket reported a 54% increase in holiday searches, indicating that demand is still high.

How Covid-19 impacted Aviation Job Search

As expected, the year started like any other with a spike in traffic and applications. When the unexpected happened, less career opportunities were available, resulting in an increase in applications for the employers who continued recruiting throughout.

Our CV database grew by 2.45%

Our registered jobseekers grew by 3.48%

On average, over 184,000 jobseekers visited Aviation Job Search every month

The average number of jobs posted every month was 1,051, a decrease of 53% from 2019

Applications per job increased by 244% between March and December

Employers were predominantly searching for Engineers, Captains and B1 Licensed Engineers

The most applied to jobs were for B1 Licensed Engineer, Mechanic and Engineer opportunities

How Covid-19 impacted our Jobseekers

Since March, we regularly interviewed our jobseekers to understand how Covid-19 was affecting their lives and careers. We were also keen to discover their feelings about how the government and their most recent employer handled the pandemic. The results from one survey in particular were startling.

What is your employment status?

Would you consider reskilling in order to take another job?

How do you feel your most recent employer has handled the pandemic in relation to their employees?

How do you feel the UK government has handled the pandemic overall so far?

89% are worried about their future in the aviation industry.

86% believe the UK government could be doing more to help the aviation industry get back on its feet.

“I feel let down by my trade union, and by the company I worked for. They didn’t explore all options before making hundreds of us redundant.”

Anonymous jobseeker

“No-one expects the government to get it 100% right, but they should have got more than 5% right.”

Anonymous jobseeker

* The statistics and opinions displayed are based on an Aviation Job Search survey of 384 aviation professionals from October 2020. They do not reflect the views of the Aviation Job Search or any of its team.

How Covid-19 impacted searching for jobs

We were also keen to understand how job searches and priorities had changed as a result of this year’s events. The results were fascinating and paint a powerful picture of the current aviation job market.

How long have you been job hunting?

How many jobs have you applied for during your current job search?

What information is most important for you to see in a job advert?

Do you feel most job adverts provide the information you are looking for?

Have your career priorities changed as a result of this year’s events?

What do you find most frustrating about job hunting?

What information do you want to know about an employer?

  1. Salary
  2. Company culture
  3. Diversity

If your priorities have changed, why?

  1. Searching for long term/stable employment (rather than contract work)
  2. Salary expectations are lower
  3. Considering taking work (or already working) outside of the aviation industry

* The statistics displayed are based on an Aviation Job Search survey of 2,489 aviation professionals from December 2020.

Our Response to Covid-19

As things slowed down from April, we took the time to strategically review the fundamentals of Aviation Job Search and search for ways in which to cultivate. As Sir Winston Churchill said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste,” meaning that in times of trouble, great things can occur if the opportunity is seized.

We started by interviewing thousands of jobseekers and clients to establish the features they would like to see enhanced or added. In August, we compiled huge amounts of data into a comprehensive plan to revamp the site. Once equipped with our plan and goals, we set about working hard behind the scenes to bring those concepts to life.

For our jobseekers, the new features will simplify the application process, offer more detailed job descriptions and improve the job search functionality. Enhanced search functionality means that jobseekers can discover relevant career opportunities quicker and easier than ever before.

We can also exclusively reveal that for the first time ever on our platform, jobseekers will be able to apply for jobs using their Aviation Job Search profile instead of their CV. This will allow jobseekers to showcase their talent, skills and experience beyond the CV, which means a better chance of reaching the interview stage and landing their dream job.

For our clients, it will be easier to post jobs and view detailed insights into the performance of their jobs. Clients will also be able to compare how they are performing against other employers on Aviation Job Search.

We’ll also be providing enhancement indicators on live job posts. For example, if the salary offered is below the industry average, we’ll flag it to ensure job posts achieve their maximum potential.

We’re also proud to announce that our CV database will be the smartest version to date and jam packed with more comprehensive data. We’ll even suggest candidates which could be relevant to you based on recent search data.

These features are just the first phase of the revamp which will launch in early 2021.

2021 and beyond

From our extensive research, we discovered that jobseekers were searching for more than just career opportunities from Aviation Job Search which is why phase 2 and 3 of the relaunch will focus on career development support and a community in which professionals can connect.

  • Exciting developments coming in the next 18 months
  • Salary & take home calculators
  • Upskilling opportunities
  • A day in the life features
  • Recommended entry points for specific career paths
  • CV and interview tips
  • Mentorship guidance
  • Expanded professional profiles
  • Enhance your professional reputation by posting achievements, articles and day in the life features
  • Community Q & A board
  • Assessments
  • Revamped courses platform
  • End to end career guidance
  • Career case studies
  • Events integration

About Aviation Job Search

Specialising in aviation recruitment, we give airlines and companies the tools to connect with aviation professionals so they can grow. Find out how we can help you today.

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