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The Unforeseen Demand for Aircraft Maintenance and Repair Personnel

The aviation industry is recovering at an unprecedented pace after the Covid-19 pandemic. In the US there were nearly 76 million passengers during October 2022, only 3% below the same month in 2019. At the same time, China’s reopening after the strict covid lockdowns is expected to bring back a considerable number of passengers (Financial Times, 2023).

This recovery is happening at a faster pace than anyone anticipated and therefore aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus are striving to fulfil airlines’ new plane orders.

As a result, carriers are sticking to their older planes and are investing in the replacement of parts to maintain their older fleets. In fact, United Airlines spent $2.2bn on parts and repairs in 2022, a 20% rise compared with 2019 and a 64% increase from 2021 (Financial Times, 2023).

The shortage of aviation maintenance personnel, despite being largely debated over the years, did not consider such a sudden increase in the requirement for them after the Covid-19 pandemic. Only in the North American market for 2023, is estimated a gap between the supply and demand of mechanics in the area of 12,000 to 18,000, equivalent to 14% of the total mechanic workforce (Oliver Wyman, 2023).

Undoubtedly, this means an increase in the operating costs of airlines, MROs and spare parts manufacturers which are increasing wages to retain and attract new workforce and consequently making the profession even more appealing.

Although the industry cannot do much in the short run, the pool of mechanic candidates needs to be expanded over the coming years and the whole industry needs to outreach within younger candidates, even as young as those still in middle school. In the same way, only 2.6% of the mechanics' workforce are women. The aviation industry needs to endeavour to attract the female population (Forbes, 2023).


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