An outplacement service for Self-Defense Forces pilots will likely resume in fiscal 2014 to cope with the shortage of commercial airline pilots expected from the advent of low-cost carriers in the Asia-Pacific region, a government source said Sunday.
Under the employment assistance system, which began around 50 years ago to secure pilots for airlines, the defense and transport ministries coordinate requests and offers to guide SDF pilots to domestic airlines.
The service had been suspended since 2009, when the government of then Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama of the Democratic Party of Japan decided to crack down on “amakudari,” the practice in which central government bureaucrats land often cushy post-retirement jobs at entities they previously supervised.
SDF fighter and transport pilots in their 40s are mainly encouraged to move to the airlines under the job placement system to help the SDF curb personnel costs and retain pilots in their 20s and 30s for front-line duty.
The Defense Ministry is planning to appoint former SDF pilots as reserve officers after they transfer to the private sector. The ministry also plans to allow former SDF pilots to join foreign airlines offering service to Japan.
According to the transport ministry, former SDF pilots accounted for about 6 percent of the around 5,600 pilots employed by major Japanese airlines as of January 2013.
It is estimated that the pilot shortage will reach 9,000 around 2030 due to mass retirements, requiring airlines to hire 400 pilots a year.
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