U.S. Airline Pilots Are in High Demand with High Pay Overseas

I found an article on CNN today which spoke about the current shortage of airline pilots, and quoted airline industry expert Kit Darby on the subject. The article focused on the number of US airline pilots being recruited by foreign airlines today.

The article reported on “ a legion of U.S. pilots now captaining jets for foreign airlines, quoting Kit Darby, an aviation consultant in Peachtree City, Georgia.

“A lot of U.S. pilots are working overseas, more than ever before,” Darby said. “It’s pretty common.”

Darby referred to the fact that the airline industry is rapidly expanding overseas compared to the US Carriers, so many US trained pilots head overseas, where aviation is expanding and there is a clear need for the experience that the American pilots bring. They typically end up captaining jetliners with co-pilots and crew who are from their host countries or from other countries where aviation professionals are less experienced.

“It’s a challenging position, half trainer and half pilot,” Darby said of captaining a foreign-flagged airliner. But the rewards can be substantial.

Americans signing on to pilot jetliners in the Middle East, China and India can make well over $100,000 a year, plus add-ons like housing, according to Darby.

He said a pilot working in Africa would probably make a bit less than those working in Asia or the Mideast but would still do well.

“The big deals come with the captain’s seat,” he said.

American pilots looking to work overseas may negotiate their own deals with foreign airlines or be matched up with a foreign carrier through a recruitment service, he said.

For instance, Air China is hiring captains for Airbus A330 aircraft, and it will train them to do so. Pay is $4,000 a month during training and then $11,000 a month plus a $4,000 monthly living allowance once training is completed.

In a report from February, Bloomberg said airlines in China will be hiring 16,000 pilots in the next three years, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Shen Wei, a recruiter for China’s Spring Air, told Bloomberg that China was a strong market for U.S. pilots.

“Everyone is facing a pilot shortage,” he’s quoted as saying. “Foreign pilots are the quickest option” referring to US Pilots.