Regional Airlines Increase Pilots’ Pay to Overcome the Pilot Shortage

Pilots flying for many regional U.S. airlines saw substantial pay increases in the past 14 months and offer incentives to entice people to consider a career as an airline pilot in hopes of overcoming the nationwide pilot shortage plaguing regional carriers.

This fall, for example, American Airlines’ wholly owned regional carriers — Envoy, PSA and Piedmont — increased starting salaries by between 32% and 47% while implementing signing bonuses of $20,000. As a result, first-year pilots make nearly $60,000.

American’s subsidiaries followed a move by Delta’s wholly owned Endeavor Air in January, which raised starting salaries by 20% while offering retention bonuses for four years of $20,000, an effective doubling of starting pay.

Republic and SkyWest, the nation’s two largest regional carriers, also implemented substantial pilot pay increases since the fall of 2015, as did other carriers, including the SkyWest subsidiary ExpressJet.

The surge of substantial pay increases at the regional carriers came in response to growing recruiting challenges, combined with the expense of acquiring the federally required 1,500 hours of training before a pilot can join the airlines.

Exhaustive studies show that over the next 10 years approximately 18,000 pilots will retire from the four largest U.S. carriers: American, Delta, Southwest and United. The entire regional airline industry presently employ about 18,000 pilots and therein lies the problem.

This year alone, the four legacy airlines, along with JetBlue, Alaska, Spirit and cargo operators FedEx and UPS, will hire more than 4,200 pilots with thousands of those coming from the regional airlines.

Numerous regional airlines have turned to the largest and most successful flight school to help. ATP offers the Tuition Reimbursement Program through which 11 regional airlines offer at least $11,000 reimbursement to students training for careers flying for the airlines at over 40 flight training centers across the U.S.

Join the many proud ATP graduates who have gone on to exciting careers flying for the airlines. There has never been a better time in the history of aviation to do so.