Africa's airlines face a 'crippling' loss of pilots

Africa's aviation industry has called for a code of conduct to regulate a crippling flow of pilots from the continent's struggling airlines to richer and more established airlines elsewhere. On Wednesday 5 September, African Airlines Association (AFRAA) secretary general Christian Folly-Kossi urged African nations to launch diplomatic initiatives that would lead to the creation of a code of conduct on the transfer of pilots.

Folly-Kossi told Kenyan foreign minister Raphael Tuju that established airlines lure pilots from Africa by increasing their salaries three-fold, to amounts that local airlines simply cannot afford. "We need diplomatic action from the countries concerned," Folly-Kossi later told the media in Nairobi.

"We have these problems in football, but in football the rules are very clear. You cannot take a striker from a country without signing an agreement with the team he belongs to," he said.

Tuju called for the strengthening of regional airlines, especially in the countries of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) trading bloc, comprising 20 member states stretching from Libya to Zimbabwe. "Over 40 per cent of our business is in COMESA countries," he said.

Aviation experts have warned of a dire shortage of pilots in the region, owing to the rapid growth of air traffic in Asia and the Middle East, and the surge of lucrative low-cost carriers, both in Europe and Asia. They say the demand for pilots will further increase in the coming decade, because of the air industry's growth in powerhouses India and China.