Airlines are expected to hire more pilots this year as they restock their flight decks following the pandemic.
After the travel industry started to recover, airlines started hiring again. Many pilots are also retiring early to save money.
According to an estimate by the Flight Academy Professional Association, US airlines are on track to hire over 9,000 pilots next year. This would be the highest number of pilots in three decades.
Regional airlines, which usually hire pilots during their first year, are also on the lookout for new pilots.
Before the pandemic hit, Eric Bensinger was busy preparing cover letters and flight log books for his potential job.
The airlines stopped hiring new pilots due to the pandemic. Young pilots with no previous experience faced unpaid furloughs.
After multiple job interviews and offers, Eric Bensinger accepted a job at a regional airline that offered him an initial bonus of up to $10,000.
Since airlines started hiring again, they have been struggling to find enough workers. The shortage has caused long delays and disrupted thousands of flights.
Although large airlines said they weren’t having a hard time finding enough pilots, some analysts believe the pandemic accelerated the hiring process.
Before the pandemic hit, many job seekers were able to find work at regional airlines. As the demand for experienced pilots grew, some regional airlines started paying large bonuses for the right candidates.
The coronavirus pandemic wiped out the airline industry in the first quarter of 2020. It caused the TSA to screen about 96 per cent fewer passengers than it did a year ago. As the pandemic took hold, airlines started parking thousands of unused planes around the world. The US government stepped in to support the industry.
The pandemic had a huge impact on the people who were waiting to see their future in the sky. Many of them gave up their dreams of becoming a pilot and took voluntary retirement offers to help their companies. Others, on the other hand, decided to take pay cuts and reduce their flying schedule to remain on the payroll.
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Professional Airline Pilot
People who have been in the industry for a long time remind job seekers to keep their eyes on the bigger picture.
One of these is Louis Smith, a former pilot and the chairman of a financial-and-professional pilot firm. He noted that even though the 9/11 attacks forced many airlines to lay off thousands of workers, the industry was still able to survive.
In 2003, the second Gulf War and SARS affected the demand for air travel. As a result, many airlines started to hire fewer pilots. Then, in 2019, the industry started hiring again after the retirement age was raised to 65 years old.
In 2020, Smith noted that the effects of the pandemic and the current economic conditions have affected the recruitment of pilots.
Today, a successful airline career requires constant monitoring of news reports and analysis of how the industry is performing. This is, in fact, the reason why many regional pilots are still on unpaid leave. Despite the challenges, the number of pilots at major airlines has remained relatively constant.
In early 2021, Smith noted that many freight airlines and low-cost carriers started hiring again. He expected the industry to hire over a thousand pilots during the year. However, he noted that the passenger-airline hiring remained low due to the pandemic.
What Happens Now?
As the airlines prepare for the worst recession in their history, job seekers should brace themselves for the long road ahead. They should not give up on their dreams even though the industry is still improving.
While waiting for the industry to recover, prospective pilots should not allow themselves to think that they can just sit and wait.
If you are an aspiring pilot, it is important to realize that the aviation industry will still look very different in the future once you have logged enough flight hours to successfully pass the airline pilot test.
A study conducted by Oliver Wyman in 2019 revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic has provided airlines with a temporary reprieve. However, it noted that the outbreak could threaten the industry’s future if it continues. According to the study, the primary cause of the pilot shortage is the retirement of the US’s active pilots and the cost of training.
Pilots Situation Now
The report noted that the global shortage of pilots could reach 35,000 by 2025. In extreme cases, it could grow to 50,000.
The effects of the retirements and other restructurings of the industry will have a significant impact on some of the biggest airlines. For instance, American Airlines currently has about 100,000 pilots on the payroll but on voluntary leave. As the industry begins to recover, the shortage of pilots is expected to increase to over 12,000 by 2023.
The study noted that to avoid a future shortage, airlines should continue to hire and invest in training programs.
Although the hiring process is still slow, it is encouraging to see that the industry is starting to hire again.
According to the latest data from the Federal Aviation Administration, Air Wisconsin and CommutAir are hiring first officers. Endeavor Air also plans to hire 450 pilots this year.
GoJet Airlines, for instance, has started hiring flight attendants and is planning on holding new classes in the near future. Horizon Air, on the other hand, has stopped accepting applications.
In April, Mesa’s first new-hire class started. Other airlines such as Piedmont Airlines and SkyWest Airlines also started hiring new pilots.
None of the major airlines hired new pilots in February. Louis Smith, an employment consultant, noted that the hiring activity was mainly concentrated in the regional airlines. In March, a story about the resurgence of air travel appeared in the Wall Street Journal. According to Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian, the company’s passenger volumes have started to pick up after a weekend when the average number of passengers went up.