Airlines and Airports are Gearing Up for Post-COVID Travel Surge

July 22, 2021 Industry News

If you have ever dreamt of working in the aviation industry, now is the time to get on board.

Airlines are gearing up for a long-awaited travel surge as passengers are dusting off their suitcases and taking to the skies in record numbers after having endured a year and a half of social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. People also have pent-up savings from the pandemic that they are spending on leisure travel—and employers are more lenient than ever with remote work, which means work can literally happen from anywhere with a Wi-Fi signal. Traveler confidence is on the rise—fueling a comeback that is filling seats to almost pre-pandemic capacity. The industry is now playing catch-up to fill the shortage of pilots, maintenance technicians and other critical positions to keep up with demand.

Pilot shortage

As the airline industry continues to experience an accelerated recovery, the ongoing global pilot shortage may leave cockpits empty and passengers waiting in the wings. Some pilots from the baby-boomer generation are reaching retirement age, while others are taking early retirement. Additionally, furloughed pilots need additional training and flight hours to return to the skies. With these current circumstances, industry reports suggest that airlines may have lost as many as 25,000 to 35,000 pilots in 2020 alone. Even more alarming is the realization that these numbers may reach a whopping 60,000 by the end of the decade. This gap represents a significant opportunity for those who are seeking a career in aviation. If you’re looking for a futureproof career as a pilot, an aircraft operations degree from Vaughn can land you in the captain’s seat for years to come.

Breaking new pandemic travel record

The Fourth of July weekend proved how travelers are ready to break out of the pandemic stronghold. According to an article published in Forbes, air travel saw a 200 percent increase compared to the same time last year, with just over 10 million people passing through security checkpoints.

How airlines are preparing for the surge

As the number of travelers continues to increase, airlines are optimistic as they are putting plans in motion to meet the demand. United Airlines, for example, placed its largest-ever aircraft order with Boeing and Airbus that included 200 Boeing Max jets and 70 Airbus A321neos. The airline announced it expects to add 25,000 employees for the new planes, which include pilots and flight attendants. As part of its growth plan, United Airlines plans to improve upon the customer experience by adding roomier seats, more legroom in coach, seatback entertainment and larger overhead bins. Other carriers, like Delta Air Lines are looking to recruit more than 1,000 new pilots over the next 12 months, while Qatar is in the process of bringing back previously furloughed pilots and crew.

Air cargo sees continued growth

Unlike the commercial aviation industry, the air cargo market became one of the brightest sectors of aviation during the pandemic. One of the contributing reasons for this was that airfreight and cargo companies became an essential asset in the transportation of medical supplies and other lifesaving equipment during the pandemic. Today, it continues to experience surging demand and growth as air cargo volume is expected to increase 13 percent this year. Did you know that one-third of airline revenue comes from air cargo? This $60+ billion industry is just one more reason why now is the opportune time to pursue a career in the aviation industry. In addition, the Boeing Forecast points out that despite industry downturns, “the fundamentals driving passenger and air traffic demand remain strong.” Over the next 20 years, this Forecast predicts that 763,000 pilot and 739,000 technician positions will need to be filled.

Vaughn’s long-term relationship with Atlas Air has resulted in many alumni having landed internships and ultimately full-time positions with this renowned aviation cargo company. Atlas Air Chairman and Chief Executive Officer William J. Flynn stated, “Ten percent of the workforce in our New York headquarters are Vaughn College graduates. Many more graduates work elsewhere across our company. Several of our employees are now teaching at Vaughn. And countless more have mentored Vaughn students through its ongoing internship program. The work that Vaughn is doing is so critical to propelling this industry forward. Vaughn is developing some of the best and brightest minds of the workforce today.”

Karen Batson ’04 is a prime example of this. She graduated from Vaughn, works at Atlas and is now adjunct faculty member. She has been instrumental in hiring more than 30 of the College’s recent graduates to work there because she works hard to prepare her students for their careers. Check out the story of Vladislav Makarov ’16 and how he found success at Atlas Air with Batson’s help.

No better time than now to earn your aviation degree

If there ever was a time to launch a career in the aviation industry, it is now. For decades, Vaughn College has set the pace for educating and training its students for futureproof careers as pilots, airport managers, aviation maintenance technicians and other critical aviation roles. As one of the country’s premier aviation and engineering institutions, Vaughn offers invaluable, specialized hands-on training that gives students a competitive edge in the industry. Here are some examples of what sets Vaughn apart:

  • Simulator Complex—the College is home to a $1-million flight simulator lab featuring a fleet of training devices. The simulators not only provide a wide range of training scenarios, but they’re also approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, so you can log the simulator hours you need to earn your license.
  • Location—Vaughn is located adjacent to LaGuardia Airport and not far from John F. Kennedy International Airport, providing an environment for learning unsurpassed in activities, resources and faculty.
  • Industry Partnerships—Vaughn has numerous partnerships with airlines and flight training organizations, including Heritage Flight Academy where Vaughn students can practice flying. These partnerships ensure that Vaughn’s curriculum, technology and equipment is the latest and among the best in the US.
  • Accreditation—Vaughn’s aircraft operations program is accredited by the Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI). This degree has been developed to provide students proficiency in all areas of pilot skills to the certified flight instructor level.
  • Aviation Training Institute (ATI)—Vaughn is well known for its ATI program designed to prepare students for high paying and in-demand aircraft maintenance careers with the tools, modern technology, knowledge, and hands-on experience needed for a lifetime of success.
  • JetBlue Pilot Gateway Programs—Vaughn offers a University Gateway Program through JetBlue which allows its flight students to apply and if accepted, earn a conditional job offer for a position as a first officer at JetBlue.

A message from Vaughn

It is evident that the airline industry, as a whole, has an immediate need for trained pilots, maintenance technicians and airport managers to keep up with the ongoing demand. An aviation degree from Vaughn can be your ticket to a futureproof career. There’s no better time than now to start training to become either a pilot or any of the careers in aviation you always dreamed of. Apply today!