In her 20 years in the industry, global aviation coach Kirsty Ann Ferguson has seen four economic downturns.

“We’ve come out bigger and brighter [every time],” Ms Ferguson says.

She expects the same again.

And the signs look promising, with some international routes resuming ahead of schedule from November 1 and Qantas announcing staff will return to work by Christmas.

Kirsty Ann Ferguson is optimistic about aviation’s future.(Supplied: Kirsty Ferguson)

Ms Ferguson says the demand for jobs may be tight initially.

According to the Australian Federation of Air Pilots about 300 expat pilots have returned to Australia during the pandemic. Meanwhile, airlines like Qantas and Virgin plan to return the pilots they stood down.

“Then, after that, they’ll be looking at new jobs that will be created for the increasing routes and increasing destinations,” Ms Ferguson says.

Airlines will increase the range and frequency of their international routes over time.(Supplied: Adobe Stock)

In a boost for the industry new carriers like Bonza, a budget airline forecast to start flying in early 2022, are expected.

“I don’t know any airline HR capacity that can handle the onslaught of applications they’re going to get as soon as they open a job,” Ms Ferguson says.

Eventually, Australia will face a major pilot shortage — like much of the rest of the world.

In its latest outlook report, Boeing forecast 600,000 more pilots would be needed by 2040.

Qantas will fly to London and Los Angeles from Sydney from November 1.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

“If we don’t have [pilots] coming into training, if we don’t have cadetships, then we’re going to be in dire straits.

“We need to get in earlier, we need to get in at high school so they’re taking the right subjects.”

Call for young pilots

It’s good news for aspiring commercial pilot Izzy Lamb.

The 17-year-old from South Australia’s Limestone Coast has spent this year analysing the industry’s career prospects for her year 12 research project.

Izzy Lamb’s first time on a plane was travelling to the Gold Coast for a family holiday at age 11.(ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham)

Fortunately, a lot has changed since she interviewed her four pilots earlier in the year.

“I asked when they thought the industry would come back. Most of them thought two to three years,” she says.

Izzy’s been flying since she was 14 after her aunt saw the local aero club was offering a free introductory flight.

How did it feel to fly a plane?

“[It’s] much different to if I was just driving around the paddock … It was so surreal. I could not believe I was actually flying a plane,” Izzy says.

Izzy Lamb is slowly clocking up her hours to become a commercial pilot.(ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham)

Three years later she’s got 45 hours of flying under her belt and a Passenger Carrying Endorsement under her Recreational Pilot’s Certificate.

“Mum’s a little bit scared but Dad, he was eager to go so I took him up,” Izzy says.

“I’m hoping to get Mum up soon. She’s a little bit nervous but she’ll be fine. I tell her that, I’m like ‘Mum, you’ll be fine’.”

She’s also got her brother, sister and four teachers at school lined up for joy rides.

Izzy Lamb has keys to the hangar and can fly pretty much whenever she wants.(ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham)

Most of her flying is done over the summer, when there’s less school, less sport, and less driving her younger brother to footy training.

She’s been paying for her lessons with shifts at Bunnings. Prior to that, she was working as kitchenhand.

“I was probably the first person [in year 8] to get a job.”

Izzy says her plan is to go charter flying for a few years after school for “however long it takes [to build up my resume] and then go for a big airline somewhere”.

Izzy Lamb may only just be able to reach the pedals, but she makes it work.(ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham)

Ms Ferguson thinks Izzy’s plan is a good one, especially given the initial bank up in general aviation.

“We’ve got to wait for [our experienced pilots] to move back into the airlines before general aviation jobs open to entry level candidates,” Ms Ferguson says.

To do that, they’ll need to “get current again” with updated training and testing. Ms Ferguson believes training availability will be really stretched.

Australia’s returning pilot force

Pilots need to have done a certain number of takeoffs and landings in the last 90 days to be considered current.

“We’re going to have to spend time and energy and money getting those pilots back up to currency,” Ms Ferguson says.

In her work consulting pilots with Pinstripe Solutions, Ms Ferguson says 70 per cent of pilots have had to find work elsewhere during the travel halt.

“And some of those are not going to return,” she says.

Airlines are expecting to see high demands for services as state borders re-open before Christmas.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

Other skilled pilots have been poached by airlines in the United States. She’s been approached by 140 pilots considering the move alone.

“[The US] is 100 per cent committed to the fact that they’re going to have a shortage.

“They’re like a microcosm of what we’re going to see when we start to reopen.”

The future looks bright for Izzy Lamb. Although she’s not too worried.

“I’ve got age behind me, I’ve got my whole life ahead,” Izzy says.

Ms Ferguson is also optimistic.

“Late 2022 into 2023 is going to be awesome … I think aviation is going to be on fire,” Ms Ferguson says.