News Blog

Why airlines can no longer afford to insult their pilots

HAS Lufthansa made a fundamental error in its treatment of its pilots? Does that question mark apply to the entire airline industry?

Flight-deck employees of the leading German airline, including its cargo arm, have gone on strike for the 14th time since 2014, after pay talks between its pilots’ union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) and management broke down again, writes Thelma Etim.

VC, which represents about 5,400 pilots, says its members have not had a pay increase for more than five years and Lufthansa is offering a pay freeze only, according to a report from Reuters.

The unimpressed union is reportedly seeking an average annual pay rise of 3.66 per cent – in line with Lufthansa’s profits of US$5.4bn over that period.

It all sounds familiar. Just like legacy cargo carriers Cargolux and Air France-KLM, Lufthansa is struggling to compete against the powerful new wave of carriers fashioning a new economic and business model, whilst experiencing extraordinary growth, innovation and profitability.

They include Qatar Airways, AirBridgeCargo, Volga-Dnepr, Turkish Airlines, Etihad and Emirates – plus a raft of regional low-cost passenger carriers.

Acute shortage of pilots

Forced to downsize, Lufthansa’s approach to its pilots’ demands does not appear to be any better than counterparts Cargolux and Air France-KLM. Lufthansa’s only achievement in the negotiations thus far appears to have been the successful curtailment of the ‘negative’ press coverage of its surreptitious discussions with VC. In the face of dwindling profits, surely avoiding embarrassment (by hiding from the media) is the least of its problems.

Whether they like it or not, pilots remain the nucleus of any airline. Put simply, until the advent of pilotless commercial aircraft, no pilots, no airline.

Some airlines are already suffering from acute pilot shortages. Cargolux, for example, is currently struggling to find pilots, having revised its terms and conditions for flight-deck contracts, sources say. The Luxembourg all-cargo carrier is so short of co-pilots that flights are being delayed for several hours “or even possibly cancelled,” insiders reveal.

Former Cargolux chief executive Dirk Reich was apparently advised that the new contracts will become a major barrier to recruiting the same numbers of quality pilots as in the past. Unsurprisingly, the mood among Cargolux’s pilots is now “at an all-time low,” according to close observers.

Why else has Southwest Airlines of the USA acquiesced to a new contract which will see its pilots’ pay rise by almost 30 per cent over four years? And pilots working for Delta Air Lines are also in the process of voting on a contract offering 30 per cent pay increases. If Delta pilots approve the deal, United Airlines’ pilots will also see an augmentation in their salaries, under a clause that ties their pay rates to Delta’s, reports say.

Global, political, economic and market challenges

Pilot pay is not the only concern casting a pall over the operations of Lufthansa and other legacy carriers engaged in crucial restructuring processes to weather the constant onslaught of global, political, economic and market challenges. In July, Boeing released its seventh pilot and technician report, which forecasts that between 2016 and 2035, the world’s commercial aviation industry will require approximately 617,000 new commercial airline pilots.

Asia-Pacific is the region expected to require the greatest number of pilots (248,000) over this period due mainly to expected growth in the single-aisle low-cost carrier market, while North America’s increased pilots demand (112,000) will be the result of new markets opening up in Cuba and Mexico. Demand in Europe has increased responding to a strong intra-European Union market, the Boeing study also reveals.

Region New Pilots
Asia-Pacific 248,000
Europe 104,000
North America 112,000
Latin America 51,000
Middle East 58,000
Africa 22,000
Russia / CIS 22,000

Source: Boeing

The projections indicate that airline pilots will find themselves in a very strong position in the very near future – even sparking bidding wars for their services. Sources suggest this is already happening, with some pilots switching from one airline to another, lured by more attractive packages and prospects.

It is a situation that will become a major stumbling block for all-cargo airline Cargolux as it comes under pressure to recruit talented new people for its proposed Henan-based offshoot Cargolux China whose launch date has already been put back. How many pilots are there who would happily uproot their family lives to live in the middle of China? How would such a change work for schooling, language, social life etc?

“..growing lack of suitable candidates”

The critical shortage of pilots amidst growing demand across the entire aviation industry is the next major headache for some carriers, especially amongst those desperately looking to cut costs. Another report warns they should be doing the opposite.

“Due to the increasing demand for pilots and a growing lack of suitable candidates, airlines need to develop strategies to ensure they attract and retain, the right crew,” asserts global risk management company Marsh, which has suggested a number of vital alternative strategies for carriers. These include conducting regular pay reviews.

“Given that the cost of flight training is considered to be a deterrent for young talented [people], they are more likely to be attracted to airlines who offer generous packages covering these costs,” the company explains. “Having then borne the pilot training costs, the airline must seek to protect its investment by taking proactive care to retain its staff.”

The Marsh report cites improving work conditions as a significant factor that carriers should consider by “taking steps to ensure their corporate culture promotes a better work/life balance” for employees.

“For example, longer rest periods, more regular schedules and revisions in the number of hours they are required to fly annually could all have positive effects,” it suggests. The truth is that most pilots try to maximise the number of hours they fly to earn lucrative bonuses worth as much as 30 to 40 per cent of their salaries.

But there remains a big gap in expectations between airline managements and their pilots. From the airlines’ current management perspective – and even though there is a shortage of pilots – airlines are unlikely to want to encourage their pilots to spend less time in the air, the report insists.

Offering enhanced employee benefits is another tactic carriers can employ to distinguish themselves from the competition. “Given the unique challenges faced by pilots, most airlines recognise they need to provide specialised aviation employee benefits coverage, as opposed to some of the more generic employee benefit packages available,” the report says.

Such niche insurance coverage typically falls into four key areas: personal accident, term-life, emergency medical expense, and loss of licence.

The report concludes that as this race for the best flight-deck talent intensifies, airlines will be forced into re-thinking their people strategies. “Given [carriers] operate within an often harsh and volatile economic environment, airlines will need to explore a variety of creative approaches to attract and retain crew, beyond simply raising salaries – certainly one approach is to put in place an aviation employee benefits programme that distinguishes one airline from its competitors.”

“Will airlines change their attitude towards their pilots?’ – tell us what you think by voting on our Twitter page


One of the best things about this island is the variety you get here. For such a small landmass, we’ve got everything from mountains, waterfalls, forests, plains,  lakes, valleys, and beaches. The only landscapes we actually lack are deserts and snow. Really.

Yala National Park Safari
 Kirinda – Palatupana Road, Yala

Home to the densest leopard population, Yala is the place for nature lovers in Sri Lanka. From herds of elephants to packs of frisky felines, sambhurs, sloth bears and spotted deer, you’d find as many as 44 different animal species and 215 varieties of birds. Its ecosystems include dry and moist monsoon forests, marshlands, grasslands, and sandy beaches, so you’d also find crocs in the area. Nearly 130,000 hectares, the land is divided up into 5 blocks out of which just two are open to the public.

Fun fact: ‘… the park was initially used as a hunting ground for the elite under British rule.’ This was before it became a wildlife sanctuary in 1900 and subsequently a national park in 1938.

Nine Arches Bridge (Demodara)
 Gotuwala, Demodara

Known as Ahas namaye paalama in Sinhala, the Nine Arches Bridge is made completely of stone — as in, there’s no steel involved at all. From what I’ve heard, it’s known as the Ahas namaye paalama (the bridge of nine skies) because of the view you get when you stand beneath it: nine portals through which you can see the sky as you look upwards.

It’s set in Ella, so if you’re there for a holiday it’s the perfect time to put a small trek and check it out.

Casuarina Beach (Jaffna)
 Casuarina Beach, Karainagar, Jaffna

Casuarina Beach is one of the nicer beaches just off Jaffna, with sparkling blue waters and bleached sands topped off with its namesake Casuarina trees. You can either wallow in the waters near the shore, or chat up a fisherman who has a boat (there are a couple of regular boatrides offered right there) and take it out to a reef a few kilometres out to sea. This in itself is a surreal experience because you’re out at sea with land far far away, YET the water is only as deep as your knees or chest.

The beach is situated on the Karainagar island, which is accessible from the mainland via the Ponnalai Causeway (AB17). The drive itself is lovely, with miles of saltpans and water on either side.

Aberdeen Falls
 Hatton, Sri Lanka

A hop and a skip away from Laxapana, Aberdeen is a must-visit if you happen to be passing by the area. It’s also worth visiting if you’re going out of your way specifically for it, because the views from one of the main pools are absolutely stunning.

Standing 322 feet tall, it’s got two ‘pools’, the more picturesque one being the one right at the bottom. The pools are treacherously deep in the middle and the rocks leading down to it are incredibly mossy and slimy as well, so please exercise caution.

Adam’s Peak
 Adam’s Peak

Also known as Sri Pada, this is not just a mountain for hikers to conquer: it’s a pilgrimage for many people. The ‘season’ for Sri Pada is from December to May, beginning and ending from each month’s respective full moons. It’s a long and arduous climb with thousands of steps along the most popular path — but you’ve six paths to choose from, a couple of those taking as long as a day and through a bit of bush.

It’s believed that the rock formation at the summit is the footprint of many a religious figure (okay, probably just two) with Buddhists believing it’s an imprint of the Lord Buddha, and Muslims and Christians believing that it’s Adam’s. Which is kind of self-explanatory given the name.

Ella Rock

Sunrises over mountains (especially the ones in Ella) are nothing short of stunning: so we recommend a super early start to your day. Offering panoramic views of the Ella Gap and Little Adam’s Peak, the hike is an arduous upward climb where you’re guaranteed to lose yourselves among tea estates, hills, and tall shrubs if you’re without a guide.

 Hantane Mountain Range

I hate to overuse the adjectives (though this happens whenever there’s a scenic mountain involved) but Hantane is one of the best easy-hikes you’d get. Only mildly challenging, you definitely feel like you’re out in the wilderness when you’re actually just a few minutes away from the chaotic urban mess that is Kandy; so you can get back to civilization pretty quickly. It gets cold and chilly towards sunset, so take a wrap along with to to stay cosy.

Idalgashinna – Ohiya Railway Trek
 Uva Province

Rather out of the way and in the middle of nowhere so hordes of tourists haven’t ruined it yet, the walk between Idalgashinna and Ohiya is one of the most scenic rail hikes in the country. If I’m right, it’s known as the most scenic hike amongst backpackers and hikers. This is pretty straightforward, except the part where you get tons of tunnels to walk through because there’s a slight chance of a train coming through the same time you’re going through it. So… keep an ear out.

Oh also, there’s no mobile connectivity — so this isn’t for the social media addict.

 Sigiriya Road, Sigiriya

A rock fortress in which one of our patricidal kings of yore holed himself up, Sigiriya is a work of art in every sense of the word. From its waterways and ponds that’s placed right at the summit, to the frescoes and mirror wall leading to it, it’s a local and international favourite.

Thanks to Indi, I learnt that ‘…the rock itself is a volcanic plug. This essentially means that it’s the core of an extinct volcano. Magma hardened inside a volcano, essentially stopping it up. Then the mountain around it eroded over millions of years, leaving this. Boom.’


Pasidukah’s home to one of the best places to get a beach sunrise in the country. It’s also immensely touristy, with plenty of luxury beach resorts dotting the bay. The main attraction is the sea, obviously, but if you’re  keen on hobnobbing around, there’s that’s too. The Mari Amma Kovil  is apparently close to six hundred years old, and is an understated temple which is very popular amongst the residents of the area.

Picking just 10 out of everything we have here is hard, especially when there are popular tourist attractions contending with more obscure and unknown areas. Mind you, there are plenty more places to visit and check out, but we hope this list does some justice to the plethora of sights Sri Lanka offers. Let us know what your favourite must-vists are!





Celebrating Women in Aviation

Smooth Flight Support  Wishes Women Around the World A Happy International Women’s Day

Women have been an integral part of our aviation industry. The industry is by large still dominated by men, but women are claiming their space and carving their niche in the world of air travel. When we talk about women in aviation, usually the first name that comes to our mind is Amelia Earhart, the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. We mostly forget other equally important female aviators who have significantly contributed to the aviation industry. We don’t remember women like Katherine Wright, sister of Wilbur and Orville Wright, who often sat with her brothers during their exhibition flights, becoming the first female to fly in an airplane.

Baroness Raymonde de Laroche


“Flying is the best possible thing for women.”

Baroness Raymonde de Laroche was a Frenchwoman, who in the year 1910 became the first woman to obtain a pilot‘s license.

This huge step caved a way out for women all over the world to follow her and reach for the skies.

Katharine Wright Haskell

“And then, one day, it flew.”

As discussed above Katharine Wright played a crucial role in Wright brother’s flight of success. Katherine not only provided moral but also financial support to brothers. It was her brother Wilbur who had once said, “If ever the world thinks of us in connection with aviation, it must remember our sister.” But the world often neglects the crucial role she played in pioneering her brother’s success. She, in fact, was awarded the Légion d’Honneur along with her brothers for their contribution to the world of aviation.

Bessie Coleman

“The air is the only place free from prejudice.”

When of racial and gender discrimination was at its worst in America, Bessie Coleman, dared to become the first person (male or female) of African-American descent, and the first of Native American descent to hold a pilot license in the USA.

Amelia Earhart

“The most effective way to do it is to do it.”

Amelia Earhart is the first name we usually take when talking about women in aviation. Indeed, her achievements have been monumental for women all over the world. She was the first woman to fly solo above 14,000 feet in 1922, across the Atlantic Ocean. She has a number of medal and achievements to her name, one of them is receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross (the first woman to do so).

Emily Howell Warner


“This Is Your Captain Speaking…”


In today’s world only 3% of commercial airline pilots in the world are women. Until 1970s there was none. We still have a long way to go. It was Emily Howell Warner who in 1973 became the first female commercial pilot when she got hired by Frontier Airlines. She also, was the first female pilot to become a captain for a commercial airline.


Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock

“Nobody was going to tell me I couldn’t do it because I was a woman.”

In 1964, Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock, created history by becoming the first woman to fly solo around the world. Mock took 29 days to complete her historic flight in which she covered almost 22,860 miles. She used a single-engine Cessna 180 which was named the “Spirit of Columbus”. Mock also became the first female to fly across the Pacific and Atlantic.

Important Female Pioneers in Aviation

Other important note-worthy women in aviation include-

  • Jeanne-Geneviève Labrosse, who in 1798, became the first female professional aeronaut.
  • Lilian Bland, the first women to design, build and fly an aircraft.
  • Hilda Beatrice Hewlett, the first British woman to receive a pilot’s license and also established the first-ever flying school in the UK.
  • Amy Johnson, the first woman to fly from Britain to Australia.
  • Jacqueline Cochran, who 1906, became the first female to break the sound barrier.
  • Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space.

These and countless other women have contributed to open spaces and make a place for us in the aviation industry. We now have access to schools, trainings, and jobs which were near to impossible for these pioneering women. We think the US or UK might be leading in training female pilots, but it is India that is leading in training professional women pilots. The rest of the countries should definitely follow its lead. And not only as pilots in every field of aviation industry let’s try to give more chance to women to reach the skies.


Air Traffic Is Going to Increase with New Airports Opening and Airport Expansions in 2019

Traffic in air is increasing, as IATA estimates that the number of passengers using air transport  will increase will reach to 8.2 billion in 2037. The aviation industry is expanding at a rapid growth with more people flying in a plane than ever. Business aviation as well as commercial aviation is expanding. One of the reasons is accessibility. With many international airports as well as domestic airports being constructed all over the world, the number of flights will automatically increase too. Competition too increasing between the international airports to be the best, the busiest, or the largest. From spaceship-like building  to world’s tallest indoor waterfall, airports are leaving no stone upturned to take the aviation industry to a new level. Smooth Flight Support  today talks about the exciting new airports being constructed worldwide. And also, about new airports expansions in 2019.

Istanbul Airport – Turkey



The massive new Istanbul Airport opened on October 29, 2018. But the big Switch from Istanbul Atatürk Airport to Istanbul Airport happened on 6 April 2019. Expected to become the world’s busiest airport, the construction of the new Istanbul Airport will be carried out in four phases. The buzz around the new Istanbul Airport is being created for quite a few months now. The design of the airport with its tulip-shaped control tower won the first prize in the “Future projects — Infrastructure” category at the 2016 World Architectural Festival in Berlin.

The good news for business aviation is Istanbul Atatürk Airport will now exclusively be a general aviation airport, it will be available for Cargo, Maintenance/technical flights, general aviation, Air taxi, Business flights, State aircraft and other flights permitted by Authority.

Jewel Changi at Singapore Changi Airport – Singapore



The much-awaited Jewel Changi, a futuristic shopping and airport facilities complex, opened in Singapore Changi Airport on 17th April 2019. Jewel Changi, a mall like retail hub, includes the 130 feet world’s tallest indoor waterfall, an indoor a multi-level jungle with walking trails, a movie theatre, and more. Take a sneak peek Inside Singapore Changi Airport’s new ‘Jewel’. The 1.25-billion-dollar project, Jewel Changi, will connect the airport’s terminals making it the central hub of Changi Airport.

Murcia Corvera Airport – Spain



The Murcia Corvera Airport , officially called as Región de Murcia International Airport opened in January 2019 in Spain. The airport after being inaugurated by King Felipe VI of Spain, replaced the military San Javier airport and is now the region’s hub. The 561 million-dollar airport is located between Murcia and Cartagena.

Beijing Daxing International Airport – Beijing, China



China set to become the largest aviation market in the world by 2022 is building 8 new airports every year. One of the most awaited one is Beijing Daxing International Airport expected to open on 30 September 2019. The airport like Istanbul Airport aims to be one of the largest and busiest in the world. Test flights Beijing Daxing International Airport starts flying from 16 May 2019. This much-needed airport in China will be the second international gateway for Beijing, along with Beijing Capital International Airport. The airport will have seven runways, with one 700,000 sqm terminal designed by Zaha Hadid.

Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport – New Orleans, USA



Another important airport expansion project is Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport ‘s new modern north terminal. The much-awaited 1 billion-dollar terminal will revamp the look of the New Orleans Airport. The terminal will have 35 gates and a consolidated security checkpoint for a smooth airport passage. The opening of Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport ‘s north terminal is delayed till fall this year.


A Flight Support Company Is Like A Restaurant Business

Choosing the Right Flight Support Partner for Your Next Trip Smooth Flight Support Service

A very vital question in Business Aviation is how to choose a flight support company. Every Private Jet operator, Airline, Air Cargo Companies, MEDAVAC and Air Forces encounter this question. Especially when they need the services of a flight support company. Like you would ask why should you choose Smooth  Flight Support  as a service provider? So today we discuss what are the criteria to choose your service provider-

  1. Brand Name and Reputation
  2. Geographic Presence and Location
  3. Financial Capability or Price Preference
  4. Communication and Linguistic Advantages
  5. Seniority or Fresh eager companies

I will make it as simple as it gets for why you would Choose Smooth Flight Support ..

A flight support company is like a restaurant business

The hostesses and waitresses, clean tables with clean sheets and friendly faces.

The key account manager or contact person must know his area of expertise. From business aviation to private jets, he should be thorough with all. He must present the product he is selling properly. The key ground operations and flight services that he is selling. So, you can be convinced of what type of staff and employee he has in his office. Also, the key account manager must be reachable at all times. And through all available communication channels. For every region we have a key contact manager or Business development manager. He/she must speak 1 to 2 major language of that region.

The strategy in Smooth Flight Support  is to do the job on time, efficiently, with comprehensive and reasonable prices. We try always to not to make it complicated. At Smooth Flight Support  we get the job done on time, and like they say, everyone goes home happy!!!

The Kitchen, the Chef, and the cooks

Swiftness of ACK and processing your inquiries and requests-

Our IT department has informed us that at Smooth Flight Support  most of our received emails are answered in less than 10 Minuit

Before you engage yourself in any type of business transaction with your service provider you need to do a small survey.

The main questions should be:

  1. How direct is the relationship between flight support company with end suppliers?
  2. How do you purchase your permits- through Civil Aviation or Agents?
  3. How do you arrange handling? Via FBO, Commercial handlers or a 3rd or 4th party provider?
  4. Do you have competitive fuel prices?

Simply, we hate to subcontract

Everything is cooked in-house and it must taste good

We go direct for 85% of our purchases, guess why? We minimize the cost by removing the middle parties. During the operational event, we get the updates from the staff on the ground since we work with the main supplier.

When it comes to fuel, we shop around and compare with the rest of the suppliers until we acquire the most competitive price with most reliable and on time fuel supplier.

With all these points in mind, you go ahead and choose your service provider. The key point is to keep it simple and keep it going,

You know where to find us

Smooth Flight Support Pvt (ltd)

No 36, C.R.I.Road,Lunuwila , Srilanka

+94) 314354400
+94) 702967270

+94) 762771800
+94) 763061800

Place your order and we shall feed you!!!