With career path to airlines grounded by pandemic, S. Korean airfoce pilots stay put
There were no expert-level Korean Air Force pilots who applied for discharge this year to work for private airlines due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic to the airline industry.
The South Korean travel industry has been severely impacted by pandemic-induced international travel restrictions. In 2020, only 4.27 million South Koreans traveled abroad, which was a 85.1 percent plunge from the previous year.
Losing military pilots to private airlines has been a problem of the Korean Air Force.
Every year, about 100 to 130 expert-level pilots, which have eight to 17 years of experience, opt to be discharged from military service to shift careers as private airlines pilots.
Expert-level pilots can carry out independent tactical operations and serve as flight instructors for novice level pilots.