Call for visa conditions for expat airline managers

Solomon Airlines airbus
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TRAINING for Pacific Island airline managers is being neglected but could be increased if governments imposed visa conditions on expat managers.

The call for visa conditions on expat airline managers was made by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Association of South Pacific Airlines (ASPA) George Faktaufon who says more locals need to be trained to take up higher responsibilities in the airlines business.

Faktaufon said ASPA has plans in place to re-introduce general management training for Pacific Island airline staff but needs help from governments.

“For instance, when you grant visas for expatriates, particularly for the airlines, there must be some requirements to identify local counterparts, and provide training during a certain period that when expatriate leaves, there is a local person ready to take over.

“Unfortunately, this is absent in all Pacific Island countries. There is not any requirement when you bring in expatriates to train and develop local counterparts.

Faktaufon said loss of skilled staff is one of the key challenges airlines have faced since COVID-19.

Airlines have been harder hit than many other industries by the impact of the pandemic because border closures have dramatically reduced services.

Even when planes are not flying, airline staff need to continue regular training to maintain the certification they need to keep their jobs.

ASPA is working with its member airlines to assist them in the complicated process of resuming regular international flights, including with training.

“In the last 10 years, we have been concentrating on training specific key areas like revenue management, operational management, engineering maintenance management and our focus was in these specific areas because we felt it was necessary,” Faktaufon said.

“But we found that during the pandemic that no one has any existing general management training.

 While ASPA is developing new training initiatives Faktaufon said: “There’s only so much we can do in training and developing”.

“I think the onus rests with the governments themselves, the boards of the airline’s themselves, to make sure that there is a system in place where local people are developed, trained, and ready to take up those responsibilities.