ANA, JAL launch scholarship for flight mechanics amid shortage

ANA Holdings Inc. and Japan Airlines Co. have cooperated in the launch of a scholarship program to address a shortage of aircraft mechanics, with demand for air transportation anticipated to grow.

ANA and JAL Engineering Co., a JAL subsidiary in charge of aircraft maintenance, will offer up to 500,000 yen ($3,500) annually free of interest to those enrolled in nine designated training schools across Japan in fiscal 2024 or after, they said.

Up to 100 students per grade entering the nine schools will be eligible for the scholarship. Screenings will be conducted if the number of applicants exceeds the limit, they said.

Recipients of the scholarship must pay it back within eight years after they graduate from their schools, but they can recoup the fees if they become employed in either of the two companies and obtain necessary national certifications.

The scholarship program is open for other airlines to join, the two companies said.

The move comes as demand for air travel surges after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted at home and abroad but the number of aircraft mechanics dwindles due to attrition through retirement and a decrease in the number of people enrolling at training schools.

"Securing human resources is an industry-wide issue. We made a move looking several years into the future," said Ryo Tamura, president at JAL Engineering.

Toshihiro Miyamae, executive vice president at All Nippon Airways Co., ANA's flagship airline, said, "We hope to alleviate (students') financial burden as much as possible."

© Kyodo News