Japan facing airline chaos as ageing population creates shortage of pilots
Thousands of flights in Japan could be cancelled this summer as the country's rapidly ageing population leads to a nationwide shortage of airline pilots.
Peach Aviation, a Japan-based budget airline, has said that more than 2,000 flights between May and October may be affected by pilot shortages.
It has already cancelled 448 flights since last month. Low-cost carrier Vanilla Air recently announced the cancellation of 154 flights this month after struggling to recruit new pilots. The nation's pilot shortage is perhaps one of the first major indicators of Japan's industry suffering directly as a result of a rapidly ageing population, according to Yuriko Koike, an MP and former defence minister who is producing policies to raise birth rates.
She warned the situation was likely to get worse. "We already know that the number of pilots is in crisis. The baby-boomer pilots are now going to retire – and the number of new young pilots hasn't been well recruited," she said.
Japan's budget airlines are among the worst hit by the pilot shortages, with the rapid expansion of the nation's low-cost carriers over the past two years accelerating its problems.
But experts have warned the issue will affect the entire industry in Japan over coming decades, particularly with the future mass retirement of older pilots.
Japan's aviation problems come two years after the UN warned that demand for pilots was expected to double, resulting in acute shortages in rapidly expanding markets such as Asia. Japan's ageing population is predicted to shrink by a third in the next 50 years. (© Daily Telegraph, London)