qantas airways
A Qantas Airways Airbus A330-300 jet takes off from Sydney International Airport over the city skyline, December 18, 2015. Reuters/Jason Reed

Qantas is asking the federal government to allow foreign pilots to stay in Australia longer as the airline reportedly faces pressure in regional centres after revealing plans to cut back fights in some cities due to the scarcity of pilots. The company still pushes ahead with plans for a pilot training academy to be based in regional Australia by 2019.

John Gissing of QantasLink has confirmed that the airline had applied to the government to allow simulator instructors and additional pilots on visas beyond the existing two-year window under the existing skilled visa program, the ABC reports. The airline, Gissing said, will need up to 75 additional pilots and instructors in the first year. For the next five years, up to 55 each year will be required.

The Australian government has allowed foreign pilots into the country on two-year visas for regional air routes. The Daily Mail reports that QantasLink wants visas to be extended as experienced pilots do not want to move here with their families for less than five years.

The airline will likely target pilots from the United States, Canada and the UK. They are expected to fly the Q400 used on the regional routes.

But Australian and International Pilots Association President Captain Murray Butt said that more foreign pilots would have a bad outcome for Australian pilots. "The problem we foresee with the approach that the Qantas group is taking is that rather than allow any pressure on wages, and allow the packages that they are offering people to get interested in these sort of jobs, their solution is to sell off Australian residency,” the ABC reports Butt as saying.

Qantas has previously revealed long-term plans to address the worldwide pilot shortage. It plans to open doors of a new academy with an initial intake of 100 pilots. It reportedly expects to train up to 500 a year once fully established.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said in a statement that the company has a proud history of having some of the best pilots in the world and that the airline wants to ensure it stays that way.

Qantas sees a potential for the academy to become a competitive advantage for the country. The academy is expected to open to students next year to train pilots for the Qantas Group. Thousands of hopefuls have signed up to the academy.