Australian Senate's Public Hearing into the 'Future of Australia's aviation sector, post COVID-19'
Extract from AFAP President Captain Louise Pole's evidence (6 Sep 2021):
"The AFAP believes that the path to the recovery of the aviation industry is directly linked to the vaccination of the Australian population. To this end, the AFAP executive has resolved that it supports COVID-19 vaccinations for any pilot who wishes to receive one and also supports initiatives by employers that encourage pilots to get vaccinated. However, it does not believe that it is the role of individual employers to decide whether or not to mandate vaccinations.
Our earlier input to this inquiry highlighted the critical role of aviation for the Australian community and economy—a critical role recognised in all of the existing aviation assistance support packages provided by government. As of now, up to 25 per cent of our pilot members are no longer current and are without recent experience that is required to maintain their licences.
This aspect has been acknowledged in part by way of the provision of assistance to airlines to keep the skills and qualifications of their employed pilots current, such as through the Retaining Domestic Airline Capability and International Aviation Support programs.
Unfortunately, this assistance only captured international pilots that remained employed. There were hundreds of international pilots that were made redundant at the start of the pandemic, and most have lost connection with the industry. These existing programs don't address the need for the many unemployed Australian pilots to regain and retain their skills and qualifications—skills which will be required when aviation service provision ramps back up.
Furthermore, the AFAP reiterate that we do not believe that Australia has a need for skilled migration visas for foreign pilots, as there are substantial numbers of skilled and experienced pilots in Australia looking for flying jobs.
As in our earlier submission to this inquiry, the AFAP has proposed that there be a job-ready pilot program established and funded by the government. We have recently refined this proposal with specific tiers or levels of inclusions and progress, and we are able to expand on this here today. We intend to provide the details of the proposal in a subsequent submission to this committee."