One-way flights from Russia sold out quickly last week after Russian President Vladimir Putin on September 21 ordered the immediate recall of 300,000 reservists. Putin’s announcement was made in a televised morning speech and by noon direct tickets to Tashkent, Baku, Bishkek and Astana were no longer available.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu explained that the mobilization will be limited to citizens with experience as professional soldiers and insisted that students and those who served only as conscripts will not be called up. He specified, in this regard, that the first wave of recruitment will focus on soldiers up to 35 years old and non-commissioned officers up to 45 years old.
This could, however, put the aviation industry in danger of losing its personnel. People working for at least 5 airlines and 10 airports have received their call to join the army, Russian newspaper Kommersant reported.
The majority of commercial pilots in Russia received their training at military flight schools or at least completed military service before transitioning to commercial flying. Sources close to the aviation industry, airlines and airports, revealed that between 50% and 80% of employees have some kind of military training, and can therefore be called up, Aviation24 reported.
Another source, close to the national carrier Aeroflot, revealed that more than half of the employees of the airline and its subsidiaries, Rossiya and Pobeda, are potential recruits. Lawyers are said to have prepared demands for the pilots and other personnel to be relieved of their military duties, but they are certain of where to send them.
While Aeroflot said it had prepared a task force to ensure the airline’s continuity, its subsidiary, Rossiya Airlines, denied any disruption and said roasters will continue to operate as usual and pilots will continue to be assigned to long-haul flights.
The Russian aviation industry received another blow last week when, according to the latest sanctions from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), it was announced that Russian pilots could no longer receive their simulation training (FSTD) in Turkey. Since there are no suitable simulators in Russia and the FSTD is mandatory twice a year, pilots will soon not be allowed to fly anyway.