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Emirates growth strains global pilot market

Emirates Airlines flight attendants serve passengers during a demonstration flight of the Boeing 777 long-haul aircraft in Dubai in September 2007.

Jeremy Hobson: To the airline industry now where Emirates Airline is reporting its profits jumped by more than 50 percent last quarter. Unlike other airlines, the company has been doing pretty well despite rising fuel prices. It's been expanding rapidly -- ordering dozens of new big planes.

And as Marketplace's Alisa Roth reports, that means the airline will be in the market for some very experienced pilots.


Alisa Roth: Emirates Airlines says it plans to add 30 planes to its fleet every year for the next five years. All of those planes will need pilots, and a lot of them could come from the U.S.

George Hamlin is an aviation industry consultant.

George Hamlin: A pilot with qualifications to fly a large jet aircraft is literally a global commodity now. You don't have to work in your own country.

Smaller countries, like Singapore and Dubai, have to recruit internationally, because they don't have big militaries or civil aviation networks to draw from.

Sam Scanlon runs a website called JSFirm.com, which is a job board for the aviation industry. He says he's been seeing growing demand for pilots in the Middle East and Asia.

Sam Scanlon: That's led to a lot of individuals going to these areas, they generally can make more money and it's just added to the problem of a shortage of pilots.

He says he hasn't seen U.S. airlines trying to match offers from foreign carriers yet. But if airlines like Emirates keep expanding, they may have to.

I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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