Facebook campaign by Saudi jobless pilots takes off
More than 700 qualified Saudi pilots who have not been hired by Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) have set up a group on Facebook titled “Let Us Fly” through which they hope to make their voices heard, local Arabic daily Al-Watan reported Friday.
The pilots have flying certificates from international aviation institutes recognized by the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), but they have not been hired.
“These unemployed pilots have turned to Facebook to vent their anger and to reach authorities concerned who might help solve their problem,” the report said, adding that some of them are unemployed while others are taxi drivers, salesmen and security guards.
One of them is Khaled Ali who wrote on the website that he took practical and theoretical training with 180 other pilots for a year at Saudia but was later told only 15 of them would be hired. Ali says there are about 800 Saudi pilots with international commercial flying licenses who have been unable to find work for at least five years.
Umm Faisal, wife of an unemployed Saudi pilot, said her husband studied flying at his own expense about six years ago but is still jobless.
“On coming back to the Kingdom, my husband was surprised to discover that Saudia had changed its conditions for accepting pilots,” she said.
Umm Faisal also said she is a jobless university graduate.
“I fear this might affect our children who might be careless about education since it doesn’t guarantee employment,” she said.
Muhammad, a pilot who identified himself only by his first name, said he became a taxi driver to support himself.
He said he worked at Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport but resigned to study flying abroad at his own expense so as to become a pilot and serve his country in this field after graduation.
He said when he came back he discovered he could not meet the new conditions imposed by Saudia on new pilots.
Talal Sindi, a pilot who is working as a salesman, said he was disappointed to see Saudia training foreign pilots in English.
“Are they not using public funds to do this?” he questioned.
Fahd Allahyani, who holds a commercial flying license, is now working as a security guard in a private company. He said when he came back he was 29, claiming that Saudia was only interested in pilots below 28.
Assistant Director General for Public Relations at Saudia, Abdullah Al-Ajhar, said the appointment of pilots in Saudia was done according to rules, which do not differentiate between foreigners and Saudis.
“All the conditions we have are related to the safety of passengers,” he added.
According to Al-Watan, the new conditions for the admission of new pilots are:
• Age should not be more than 27. Previously it was not more than 40;
• Secondary school certificate in the sciences with scores not less than 85%;
• Passing the TOEFL test with not less than 450 points (a new condition); and
• Passing the examination of the German Space Agency which costs about 5,000 euros (also a new condition).
Source: ARAB NEWS