In the aftermath of a failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as many as 265 pilots from the Turkish armed forces were dismissed from their posts. In order to address the resultant shortfall in the Turkish Air Force, Turkish Airlines (THY) chief Ilker Ayci claimed that as any as 500 THY pilots were ready to assume their posts in the armed forces (Al Jazeera).
Speaking to the media, Ayci said, “There are a total of 800 pilots in the Turkish Airlines who previously worked for the military and 500 of these pilots started working for our company in the last five years.”
The extent to which the Turkish armed forces could depend on THY is not clear. Analysts, such as Murat Herdem of Airport Haber (speaking to Al Jazeera), noted that THY pilots earn substantially more per month than their Air Force counterparts ($5000-$10,000+ a month versus $1000-$1700 a month).
Having closed all of Turkey’s military schools, the Turkish government has permitted graduates from civil aviation schools – such as the University of Turkish Aeronautical Association – to apply for posts in the Turkish armed forces. However, there are major practical and educational gaps that would need to be addressed before graduates from these schools can become aviation officers in the armed forces.