Aer Lingus may have to hire up to 380 pilots over the next four years as the airline expands its north Atlantic business, according to some calculations.
The Irish carrier, now part of International Consolidated Airlines' Group (IAG) will in the coming months receive the first of nine Airbus A321neo long-range craft that it is acquiring over the next few years to expand its fleet of 50 planes.
Industry estimates of the number of new pilots the airline will have to hire as a result of its expansion run as high as 380 over the next four years.
It is understood that Aer Lingus will have to take on new cockpit crew to fly the A321s and replace pilots who are due to retire from the airline or leave it for other reasons.
As a general industry rule of thumb, an airline such as Aer Lingus needs to hire 10-12 pilots for each new craft it buys, indicating that it could have to take on up to 108 extra flying crew as it takes the new Airbus craft on board.
Aer Lingus said that the number of pilots employed by it has grown by 21 per cent since 2015, the year that IAG took it over, and it plans to grow by a further 41 per cent between now and 2023.
“We have had an excellent response to our recruitment campaign and are confident that we will be able to recruit to match our crewing requirements as we expand and grow over the coming years,” the company said in a statement.
Rapid expansion in air travel in Europe and the growth of low-cost players such as Ryanair have boosted demand for pilots in recent years to the point where some observers argued there was a shortage.
However, some carriers, such as Norwegian, are cutting back, with a likely loss of pilots’ jobs, as costs and competition increase.
Aer Lingus is taking on the new Airbus craft to open a greater number of north American destinations to the airline.
The aircraft's range allows it to fly to cities in the northeast and upper midwestern US. It is understood that Aer Lingus intends using the A321 long-range craft on its new service from Dublin to Minneapolis, which the airline plans to launch this summer.
It announced details of that route and flights from the capital to Montreal, Canada, late last year. The company could also deploy the craft on its Hartford, Connecticut service.
The airline wants to grow its business by connecting passengers flying between Europe and North America through its base at Dublin Airport
Aer Lingus recently announced details of a rebranding that will see most its craft painted mostly white, although it is retaining the Shamrock symbol that it has used since the 1960s.