Regional Australian carrier Airnorth has issued an apology to customers affected by schedule changes and cancellations across its network, blaming the country’s ongoing pilot shortage.
On 15 January 2018, the carrier stated, “We continue to recruit pilots and currently have 11 positions vacant. The induction process requires new pilots to undertake mandatory simulator and flight training before they are qualified to operate our aircraft.
“This process takes time, and we are currently spending in excess of half a million dollars on recruitment and training in order to continue to provide safe and reliable services for all our customers.”
While Airnorth has consolidated its schedule to reduce frequency on some routes over the next few months, it warns there may be additional schedule changes and cancellations required due to pilot coverage and regulatory requirements.
Despite the shortage, Airnorth declares it has continued to operate efficiently compared to other carriers. For example, in December 2017, 87.2% of Airnorth’s flights departed on time (within 15 minutes of schedule).
The most recent Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics reports (for September to November 2017) show a national average of 80.5% on time flights against Airnorth’s performance in the same period of 82.7%. Similarly, Airnorth has cancelled 1.3% of scheduled flights against a national average of 2.3% in the same period.
However, the company has still had to make sacrifices due to an on-going pilot shortage which has resulted in Australia relaxing visa laws to attract foreign flyers, as reported by The Guardian last December.