The Federal Air Transport Agency, also known as Rosaviatsia, has taken formal actions to prevent unemployed pilots from gaining work with foreign air carriers, according to Russian media.  

After February 24, 2022, when Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, most international flights were grounded across the country due to the risk of leased aircraft being seized in line with Western sanctions over Russia's invasion of Ukraine. As local air carriers stopped flying internationally, hundreds of pilots in Russia were left jobless, with many forced to look for employment abroad.  

However, Rosaviatsia appears to be thwarting the exodus of its pilots by declining to verify pilots’ licenses as part of standard procedure when receiving requests from foreign air carriers, the Kommersant business daily reported on June 28, 2022, citing undisclosed industry sources. 

Following standard rules, a potential new airline employer will send a verification request to the Federal Air Transport Agency asking the Russian aviation authority to provide the necessary data, including the date a pilot’s license was issued and its relevance.  

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But the local regulator is reportedly denying any foreign request, citing an “impossibility to disclose personal data” in its rejection.  

Speaking to Kommersant, Miroslav Boichuk, the president of the Russian trade union representing the interests of local pilots, said that most unemployed pilots are now attempting to secure work in airlines operating in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Turkey.  

Boichuk claimed that Rosaviatsia has received at least 600 verification requests from foreign airlines between February and June 2022.  

However, approximately 100 requests have been approved by the regulator, meaning that only 17% of unemployed pilots have been able to proceed with the process of being recruited by foreign airlines.  

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