Turkey tightens rules on pilots leaving to work for foreign airlines

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The Turkish civil aviation authority is tightening conditions covering Turkish pilots who resign and move abroad to work for foreign airlines as the aviation industry races to find extra personnel amid a booming tourism season.

The sector across Europe is dealing with especially long queues at airports this summer partly because of a lack of staff to handle the rebound in demand after COVID-19 lockdowns.

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The Turkish authority said a letter of consent from previous employer will be necessary for pilots who want to work for foreign airlines.

If a pilot resigns without a consent letter, then their application for verification will not be processed for six months by the authority, it said.

The air traffic and passenger numbers are nearing pre-outbreak levels in Turkey, according to official data.

Hava-Is union, which said the new regulation is an intervention to pilots’ freedom of labor and individual rights, will meet with transportation ministry and civil aviation officials to discuss the changes.

Hava-Is said there is serious demand for Turkish pilots from Gulf countries and North American air carriers. There are 10,525 aircraft pilots in Turkey, according to aviation authority data.

Last month, Germany said it will fast-track work permits and visas for several thousand foreign airport workers, mainly from Turkey, to help to ease summer travel chaos.

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