Pilots get paid big bucks, but the training costs are sky high

The recent Comair airline strike over salary disputes has begged the question: exactly how much do pilots get paid?

The answer is quite a bit.

Commercial pilot and flying instructor, Martin Venn says pilots get paid anything from R40 000 per month for entrants in the local budget airline industry, to R200 000 monthly at top international airline jobs.

According to Venn, working in the global market appeals to many pilots, who can earn as much as $12 500 per month (R182 617) for junior positions on contract.

Venn says the strength of the rand has a major impact on the income of employees in the airline industry.

With the exchange rate these days, the pay is really great overseas, or even flying in Africa on contract. The pay is excellent.

Martin Venn, Commercial pilot and flying instructor at Morning star Flight Academy

An international pilot career also comes with the perks of world exposure, but the costs of getting there are rather high.

Venn explains that a private pilot licence costs at least R85 000 and it requires 200 flying hours (which cost almost R2 000 per hour).

A further 1500 hours of flying is needed to obtain an airline licence, in addition to 500 flying hours on a twin engine aircraft (which costs almost R5 000 per hour), he says.

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