Air New Zealand, the country’s national airline, has applied to Immigration New Zealand to have pilots added to the skills shortage list for immigration purposes.
The airline says that it does not currently have enough qualified pilots to fill demand, and will have to look overseas to fill the job shortages.
Many local pilots have reacted angrily to the news that Air NZ wants to hire foreign pilots, saying that there are more than enough out of work Kiwi pilots to cope with any shortages. However, the airline does not believe that adding pilots to the immigration skill shortage list would be detrimental to the hiring of NZ-based pilots.
“Any changes to immigration policy relating to the pilot profession would not disadvantage any sufficiently qualified and capable New Zealand pilot,” Air NZ said in a statement.
The airline says the main reason behind the shortage is that their hiring practices require pilots have a minimum of 500 flying hours, including 25 hours of night flying, and they say there are not enough Kiwi pilots with the necessary experience.
Innovation and Employment is currently undertaking the scheduled 2013 review of the skills shortage lists. However, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce has been quoted as saying: “With regards to aeroplane pilots, I understand that Immigration’s preliminary view is that there is not a current skill shortage.” He did acknowledge, though, that the department could change their view if Air NZ can convince them there really is a shortage of qualified local pilots.