P2F continues to flourish hidden under the radar of authorities
Another rather unfortunate consequence is that by narrowing the scope of P2F only to a labour relationship, the Member States make it impossible for their authorities to find cases in their countries. Thus, a vicious circle sets in: looking for P2F with an employment contract – no cases – no evidence – no investigation. No problem.
Meanwhile, P2F continues to be a problem and a common practice in European aviation. Cadets and young pilots, after graduating from flight schools and having already a pilot license, are forced to “unfreeze” their license by paying for flight hours with sums starting from 20.000 up to 80.000 EUR. Witness to that are multiple advertisements offering hours at a ‘partner airline’.
It is not acceptable to ask a young 20–22-year-old to pay such sums after they already paid significant sums for their flight school to obtain their license. Neither is it legitimate to make retentions from their salary when they have already contributed to the costs of their training. P2F cannot be considered as training since it is not performed under the continuous supervision of a trainer and the cost of training on a specific course used by the employer to perform its services should therefore be borne by the employer.
Authorities should examine P2F from a broader perspective. These authorities should be able to investigate any pilot, performing commercial operations for an airline, even in a training period. These practices are a straightforward disguised employment relationship which fall under the oversight of any aviation authority.
Ironically, those airlines that have turned the cost of training cadets into a source of revenue are the same ones complaining about pilot shortage. If they genuinely wish to find sufficient pilots, they should first consider offering them the training and a decent contract instead of making them pay to fly.