Voices@Athena-Josias Walubita

"Airline pilots worldwide have now realised the importance of having university degrees as a backup or as an insurance policy of some sort."

Josias Walubita
Airline pilot
Proflight Zambia

Master of Business Administration Batch 2021

My views on the impact of Covid-19 on airline pilots worldwide

The Covid-19 pandemic caught the world by surprise. From the adverse effects of the pandemic, it became noticeably clear that the world at large was not prepared for this kind of situation. The travel and tourism industry were severely affected by this pandemic and airline pilots quickly lost their jobs as a result of airlines flying less as the travel demand weakened. 

Most airline pilots by default do not hold any additional professional qualifications other than a professional pilot’s licence which can only be useful in the aviation industry. When the Covid-19 pandemic reached its peak, most countries went into lockdown with strict travel restrictions and many airlines downsized due to the significantly reduced demand for travel. Some airlines came close to closing their doors permanently as a consequence.

For the pilots who lost their jobs, most ended up taking on odd jobs such as working in restaurants or shopping malls. This was because most pilots did not have university degrees to fall back upon and acquire good jobs. So, the ex-pilots were forced to take on any available jobs in order to survive.

Airline pilots worldwide have now realised the importance of having university degrees as a backup or as an insurance policy of some sort. The MBA degree program is becoming extremely popular amongst pilots as it is a clever way for them to sharpen and improve their management and leadership skills. The MBA not only makes the pilots more marketable outside aviation but also makes them better leaders and managers within the aviation industry.

For the few pilots who had university degrees when the pandemic hit, they were able to blend into other good jobs such as in media, public service, and hospital care. Having university degrees was a solid advantage for these pilots.

My aim would be to start an initiative to encourage airline pilots to diversify and acquire university degrees. This would make them more marketable in the event that the travel and tourism industry hit another downturn. This initiative will focus on the advantages of having other qualifications and to encourage all pilots to acquire proper university degrees. I was fortunate enough to maintain my job as a pilot because I had another office job in the airline as the Director of Flight Operations. 

As we move closer to the end of 2021, we see a constant rise in the number of passengers traveling worldwide. This could create a false sense of security for some pilots as they might feel that the storm is now finally over. This is a dangerous situation to be in.

It would be prudent and incumbent on all pilots to enrol into various universities and acquire recognized degrees. The MBA is a good degree to target as it would enhance the skills already acquired in aviation. Going forward, I foresee a situation where more airlines will only hire pilots who have additional university degrees. People all over the world are studying more and getting a number of university degrees. In order for one to remain competitive in the job market, it is important to acquire reputed university degrees. 

It is for this reason that I am proud to be embarking on my MBA degree program with Athena Global Education. I am extremely excited and looking forward to learning and acquiring more knowledge. Having an MBA will really enhance my self-esteem and self-worth as well. Education is a critically important part of our lives.

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