The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) was founded in 1966 and has a membership roster of sixteen airlines based in the Asia-Pacific region, including All Nippon Airways, Singapore Airlines, Korean Airlines, and others. The association held its annual meeting last week in Jeju, South Korea.
One of the challenges confronting the aviation industry in coming years is a predicted overall shortage of pilots. In July, Boeing released a report that estimated 790,000 commercial, business, and helicopter pilots will be needed in the next twenty years as demand for air travel continues to increase and airlines grow the size of their fleets. This number would nearly double the current roster of active pilots and represents an enormous obstacle to growth.
At the same time, the lack of gender equality in the industry is also coming under heavy scrutiny. According to Australian Aviation, industry reports show that women make up only three percent of the pilot workforce globally. At their annual meeting last week, the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) called on the industry to work more aggressively toward gender parity. “It’s a challenge and it needs more than talk,” read a resolution issued by the organization.
The organization name-checked the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) New Generation of Aviation Professionals initiative, which addresses pipeline issues by investing in STEM education as well as recruiting and training aviation workers. AAPA’s resolution further read, “The association also calls on governments and other aviation stakeholders to promote best practices in human resource development including a renewed commitment towards the further diversification of the workforce and gender equality.”
Rupert Hogg, Cathay Pacific‘s CEO, told reporters at the conference that the AAPA is pinpointing an opportunity. “We’ve done… badly in the past and we can do better in the future,” he said. “I mean, there is a fantastic potential workforce out there.”
Korean Air president and outgoing AAPA chair Walter Cho also noted that while airlines need to make policies that accommodate working parents, the industry at large often holds unexamined assumptions that only women would benefit from those policies. “Why does the woman always have to raise kids? Why is it only women that has to raise kids?” he asked rhetorically. “I think that [assumption] has to change before we change ours.”