I attended the FltOps.com Job Fair in Orlando Florida this past Saturday. FltOps Vice President Judy Tarver and her crew ran the event like a well oiled machine as usual and a good time was had by all.
The Job Fair was for Regional Airlines only and was attended by GoJet, Compass, Skywest, Air Wisconsin, ASA/ExpressJet, AirNet, Cape Air and American Eagle. The fair was also attended by several hundred pilots looking to spend some quality time speaking with their favorite airline’s recruiters.
I recognized quite a few of the pilots there and we had a chance to catch up with them and find out their perspectives on getting a job in today’s changed hiring environment. In looking around I was struck by how many of the pilots in attendance there were relatively low-time pilots when it came to their flight experience.
It seems that a large number of the pilots that are traditionally in attendance at these functions are either already recruited by the airlines that are now hiring, or had taken their skills overseas to fly for the growing airline industry abroad.
This was in stark contrast to the crowded job fairs a few years ago, and it was even more striking when you take into consideration the number of airlines that are hiring right now. The situation will only provide more of a shortfall of well experienced pilots as we move into the year 2012 when more Regional Airlines as well as the Major Airlines have announced that they plan on hiring pilots. The shortage of qualified commercial pilots will only become more intensified as we get closer to 2013 when all the pilots who will turn 65 years old will be forced to retire.
It is estimated that over 2000 of these retiring airline pilots will come off of the very top of every seniority list in this country. The major airlines will have no trouble getting the pilots that they need, they will simply recruit the senior Captains from all of the Regional Airlines. That is when the trouble recruiting pilots will be felt the worse.
The Regional Airlines will have a very hard time competing with each other for the dwindling pool of qualified pilots to fly for their respective airline. The bubble in the flight training pipeline caused by the recession and the resulting shortage of Educational Loans, as well as the greatly reduced number of military pilots available, will become even more evident at that time.
Although this Perfect Storm has already started, and will continue to strengthen, it will present opportunities to those who wish to be Airline Pilots and who are taking the initiative to begin flight training to take advantage of those opportunities. ATP has led the struggle to find an answer to the funding problems for flight training students and has experienced a lot of success. Don’t sit on the sidelines wishing you could find a great career, this is the time to begin flight training; this is your chance if you have ever dreamed of flying for a living.