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Pilots see higher pay, more benefits as airlines grapple with shortages

The ongoing global shortage of airline pilots means airlines are working harder than ever to compete for skilled pilots. The hiring numbers speak for themselves, as 2022 emerged as the best year on record for pilot hiring among the 12 major airlines.
Captain epaulet - shoulder of a jet airliner pilot in command
Captain epaulet - shoulder of a jet airliner pilot in command

American Airlines regional carriers Piedmont Airlines and Envoy Air announced agreements with the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which Envoy Air said include “industry-leading pilot pay rates, a Pilot Supply Premium through Aug. 2024 and contract term through July 2029.…With this agreement, pilot pay rates increase to be higher than other non-American Airlines Group regional carriers, by 6 [percent] for Envoy First Officers and 10 [percent] for Envoy Captains.” The company previously announced a retention bonus program for pilots who upgrade to captain and flow to American.

Pilots from both airlines will get 50-percent pay premiums through August 2024 as well as a commitment to a five-year flow to American Airlines. Pilots who do not transition to American Airlines after completing five full years will move to top of scale captain pay.

United Airlines will increase pilot pay by 14 percent and offer paid maternity leave under a new deal that United pilots were expected to ratify by July 15, Reuters reported. That contract is expected to set the bar for negotiations to follow between other air carriers and their pilots.

“Management teams did not plan for this; they were caught on the backside of the pandemic, demand was powerful, and they were not ready.”NBC Nightly News recently reported that American Airlines has been forced to ground almost 100 regional jets. “We don’t have the pilots that we need to fly a full regional schedule,” Robert Isom, American Airlines CEO, said during the Bernstein Autonomous 38th Annual Strategic Decisions Conference 2022.

The Allied Pilots Association told NBC Nightly News that “many airlines encouraged pilots to retire early during the pandemic, not expecting the sudden surge of returning passengers and more Covid sick cases.” Dennis Tajer, Allied Pilots Association communications committee chairman, said, “Management teams did not plan for this; they were caught on the backside of the pandemic, demand was powerful, and they were not ready.”

Mesa Air Group announced on June 8, “effective immediately Mesa Airlines pilots participating in United’s Aviate career development program are now able to earn service credit, and count prior service, towards their United transition for flying across all of Mesa’s operations, including American Eagle.” Mesa is now offering a $20,000 sign-on bonus for new pilots.

Airline hiring is having the usual effect of drawing potential pilot applicants away from corporate, charter, flight instruction, and other professional flying jobs, said Sam Scanlon, managing partner at JSfirm.com. JSfirm is a free service for job seekers and has served the aviation industry for more than 20 years. FT

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Niki Britton

eMedia Content Producer
eMedia Content Producer Niki Britton joined AOPA in 2021. She is a private pilot who enjoys flying her 1969 Cessna 182 and taking aerial photographs.

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