Sector spotlight: Aviation

27 February 2015

Supplying the skills to help aviation soar

The UK aviation sector is currently soaring with the confidence of an industry that has rebounded from recession with a renewed energy.

While the economic downturn might seem like a long time ago now, a lot of the opportunities that we are seeing today are a reaction to the actions which the aviation industry took during the recession.

Consumers didn’t have the confidence to spend their hard earned money on holidays so they stayed at home and saved their pennies, which put the industry on the back foot. Investment projects were put on hold because airports and operators were uncertain about their future prospects. That also inspired an element of consolidation and rationalisation as firms looked to reduce costs and boost efficiency.

Of course it was also the time when the low-cost airlines really began to emerge as a dominant force in the industry, grabbing a huge slice of the market, often at the expense of other airlines which didn’t have such a well-defined offer. A number of operators collapsed as they struggled to cope with the combined effects of the economic crisis and high fuel costs.

Now that those carriers and airlines that made it through the downturn have seen passenger numbers bounce back, and more recently falling fuel prices, they have the confidence to get back on the front foot and invest for the future.

I have seen over the last 12 months that the landscape is changing. Investment strategies are coming back on track and projects that had been mothballed are being brought back to life. That could be airlines installing new IT and building new booking systems, or investments in physical infrastructure like new check in areas and first class lounges at airports.

But because of the economies they have made in the past few years, many aviation firms are finding that they no longer have the expertise on hand in house to lead these kind of projects, so they are looking to place managers on an interim basis. Often the people we are placing with them don’t have any direct experience in the aviation sector. They are coming from retail and other online businesses, where they have experience of the kind of mobile and ecommerce technologies that are rapidly being adopted in aviation.

Consumers now expect to be able to search for and buy flights just as they do with other consumer products, which means using smartphones and tablets via the internet to shop from wherever they are at any time of day or night. Aviation is certainly leading other forms of transport in this respect and these kind of skills are very much in demand, so there are good day rates to be had.

This is a transformational time for the aviation industry across the country, which is investing with confidence for the next ten years.

Those who can provide the skills the sector needs in the short term will find no shortage of opportunities.

Chris Jones, Consultant and aviation specialist at Odgers Interim


Categories: Energy, Manufacturing & Infrastructure

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