A Hong Kong Airlines passenger plane taxies on the tarmac at Hong Kong Airport in Hong Kong, China September 11, 2013. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
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A growing shortage of airline pilots is putting the industry's recent growth at risk as planes sit idle, higher salaries cut into profits and unions across the globe push for more benefits. Carriers such as Emirates and Australia's Qantas Airways have poured resources into hiring, but struggled in recent months to use their jets as often as their business plans dictate because of training bottlenecks. The high cost of pilot training and several years of earlier hiring freezes in markets like the United States and Australia have deterred potential aviators from entering an industry that Boeing says will need 637,000 more pilots over the next 20 years.Qantas says it will invest 20 million Australian dollars ($15.26 million) in a new flying school to ensure a supply of pilots amid high turnover in its regional arm QantasLink.SriLankan Airlines has lost a "steady trickle" of pilots to Gulf carriers, SriLankan CEO Suren Ratwatte, who was an Emirates pilot, told Reuters.
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