Aiming for take-off in a new direction

New aviation recruitment company plans to shake up the sector with a low-cost model

John Farrelly: “To the best of my knowledge, Propeller is Europe’s only low-cost aviation recruitment company,” he says.

John Farrelly: “To the best of my knowledge, Propeller is Europe’s only low-cost aviation recruitment company,” he says.

 

Propeller Recruitment is a specialist, low-cost aviation recruiter set up by HR executive John Farrelly in April. Its prime focus is technical, maintenance, engineering, operations, safety, compliance and quality jobs and Farrelly says its launch is timely as the aviation industry is keen to pare back its recruiting costs.

“To the best of my knowledge, Propeller is Europe’s only low-cost aviation recruitment company,” Farrelly says. “Having worked in the sector for a number of years I’d heard the same things over and over about cost and talent and how costs needed to come down but companies still wanted quality people. If you look at the airlines based in Europe, many of them are low cost carriers, so it made sense to develop a low-cost recruitment model. The service currently offered by many recruiters is simply not competitive enough and Propeller will also bring a level of transparency to an industry that has been far too secretive for many years.”

Propeller’s sweet spot is aviation startups and more specifically airlines looking to set up new air operating certificates throughout Europe. “This is particularly relevant for British airlines post Brexit,” Farrelly says. “We’re already seeing the evidence with Easyjet locating in Vienna for instance.” The company is also targeting growing airlines that need to hire significant numbers of technical staff, business jet operators and airports and maintenance and repair companies.

 Biggest challenge

“In 2017, a total of 79 new airlines began operations and 29 of them were in Europe. The biggest challenge to the sector’s profitability in 2018 is rising costs and this is where we come in,” Farrelly says. “We will charge a standard rate of 12 per cent on the annual gross income whereas 15-17.5 per cent is the norm and this can rise to 30 per cent of salary and more. Depending on the customer, we may go in fact consider 10 per cent for an exclusive deal.”

Farrelly has spent his career to date in recruitment both in-house and more recently as a consultant with Hays Recruitment Ireland and Sigmar. He has a master’s degree in human resources and is a qualified psychometric assessor. “So far, we have agreed terms with a rapidly developing airline based in central Europe, a major business jet company based in Malta and an Irish-based maintenance and repair company,” he says. “We are in discussions in Singapore, in the UK and in Dublin where we are looking at the leasing sector. We are also keeping a close eye on Austria, with easyJet, Laudamotion and Wizz Air all setting up bases there.

 Game changer

“GDPR has been a major game changer as the massive databases compiled by recruiters over the years are no longer compliant and have been significantly reduced,” Farrelly adds. “Realistically, how many pilots do you think have ‘opted in’ to stay on a database that some of them probably can’t even remember being added to? We have strong relationships with staff in every reputable airline and have been diligent and transparent in how we’ve collated their data. GDPR compliancy wasn’t the major shift for Propeller it has been for our competitors. It has effectively created a more even playing field.”

Startup costs for Propeller have been minimal and spent on sundries from acquiring a recruitment licence and buying a premium package with LinkedIn to developing the company’s website. “I saved for a year to put the money together to start the business and have probably spent around €5,000 so far,” Farrelly says. “I also planned for about six months with no income as it’s a slow process getting paid in recruitment. However, I’m ahead of schedule on that as we already have paying customers so there is a revenue pipeline. Most of our marketing is done through LinkedIn and so far, traction has been good. Traditional PR has also played a role as well as a strong website with excellent SEO,” Farrelly says.

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