Ryanair pilot recruitment drive turns to South Africa in bid to boost crew numbers
Having scoured Brazil and the Middle East for pilots last year, Ryanair is embarking on a trawl of South Africa in its bid to boost crew numbers.
It's hoping to hire experienced Boeing 737 captains, as well as captains currently flying other aircraft such as Airbus jets.
Ryanair is hosting open days in Johannesburg and Cape Town later this month as it continues to source pilots for its bases across Europe.
The airline has pointed out to candidates that its fleet of 425 jets will increase to almost 600 by 2024, as annual passenger numbers hit 200 million.
Ryanair stepped up its pilot hiring and training last year after a rostering debacle that saw it ground thousands of flights.
Its chief operations officer Peter Bellew said before Christmas that retaining existing pilots at the airline was one of his top priorities.
Speaking this week as Ryanair released strong third-quarter results, Mr Bellew insisted that the airline is not experiencing any recruitment issues.
He told analysts: "We're in good shape right now.
"We're having no problems hiring experienced captains. We're having a number of people applying to us from the failed carriers, and also a lot of people want to return from the Gulf carriers back to Europe, so that's going well."
"We'll be up at a ratio of 5.3 captains and first officers per aircraft for the start of the summer season. We only need (a) 4.7 ratio to run the schedule," he added. "That's even with our five days on, four days off roster."
Mr Bellew said Ryanair is also building additional training capacity at London Stansted, the airline's biggest base, where it will have an extra three simulators by the end of the year.
He added that the carrier is also hiring internally for senior trainers.
"We'll be building up the capacity to more than recruit and train the number of people we'll have as we grow to more than 600 aircraft," said Mr Bellew.
Ryanair said this week that its third-quarter profit after tax jumped 12pc to €106m.
It's on track to deliver profits of between €1.4bn and €1.45bn for its financial year that ends in March, it said.
Ryanair held an analyst investor day in Dublin yesterday, at which it gave details on a range of its current initiatives.