Finnish air force fears loss of fighter pilots to commercial airlines

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Over 70 percent of current fighter pilots of the Finnish Air Force plan to become commercial pilots within the next three years, a fresh survey by the Air force Pilots Association had indicated.

Defence Minister Jussi Niinisto said on Thursday the Defence Forces were concerned.
Niinisto hoped the national airline Finnair could show restraint towards recruiting pilots from the military. The training of a jet fighter pilot costs millions of euros per pilot, he said.

Niinisto admitted the air force is not able to match the salaries in commercial aviation. He suggested Finnair could attract pilots in the 45-55 age group.

The chairman of the Air Force Pilots Association Jouni Kalliomaki told the Finnish News Agency that besides much better salaries, the difficulty in adapting families to a military career is another reason.

Currently 50 of the 900 pilots on Finnair are former air military pilots, but Finnair has recently announced plans to hire 100 new pilots.

The starting salary of an air force pilot is roughly 5,000 euro a month, while a pilot onFinnair can make 12,000 euros. Finnair also maintains financial bonus programs for its pilots.

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