Aeroflot welcomed the first non-Russian pilot to join Russia’s flag carrier. Klaus Rohlfs, a German citizen, made his maiden flight as an Aeroflot captain from Moscow to Prague, the company told. Two more candidate captains – from the Czech Republic and Germany – who are currently completing their registration formalities were also presented at the ceremony in Moscow.
Earlier this year changes were enacted to Article 56 of the Russian Air Code to allow Russian airlines to hire foreign citizens as flight personnel from 21 July. A Government Order allows the nation’s carriers to recruit up to 200 foreign citizens every year in total.
Aeroflot received more than 800 applications from foreign pilots – or more than 10 per vacancy – with the most applications coming from the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and Spain. To date more than 40 applicants have passed initial selection and testing procedures.
“The Russian aviation market has great potential, and pilots here are in great demand and highly valued,” said Klaus Rohlfs. “For me this means reliable employment, and moreover I will not be far from Germany and my family. Working conditions at Aeroflot are excellent – better than any other airline in the world.”
Aeroflot’s management sees recruitment of foreign pilots as an essential transitional measure to help reduce Russia’s current deficit of flight personnel, which will require concerted long-term efforts.
“Today is a historic day,” said Aeroflot CEO Vitaly Saveliev. “For the first time in Russian history, a foreign citizen will captain an Aeroflot plane. This is an important step – now that we are able to employ captains from outside the country, we can bring through substantially greater numbers of Russian pilots, who will gain experience for their captain’s exams by flying with their foreign colleagues as co-pilots. Despite some slowdown in 2014, the Russian aviation market is continuing to grow, so demand for pilots remains strong.”