Skip to comments.Pilot shortage hits US regional airlines
Posted on 03/06/2016 7:56:20 AM PST by SkyPilot
Mid-sized and regional airlines in the US are suffering from a pilot shortage that could threaten the health of the broader US aviation industry.
The labor shortfall has led to canceled flights at carriers like Mesa Airlines and Silver Airways. That has hit smaller airports, such as in Redding, California, or Erie, Pennsylvania, according to figures from the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA).
The staffing crunch could also constrain traffic for larger companies like United Airlines and Delta Air Lines that depend on the mid-sized companies to serve rural consumers and feed customers into their networks.
"It's becoming a crisis at some carriers, resulting in the cancellation of flights and other serious disruptions," said Patrick Smith, a pilot who runs "Ask the Pilot," an aviation blog.
Republic Airways, which operates flights for Delta, United and American Airlines, filed for bankruptcy protection last month, citing the labor crunch.
"We've attempted to restructure the obligations on our out-of-favor aircraft - made so by a nationwide pilot shortage - and to increase our revenues," said Bryan Bedford, chief executive officer of Republic Airways.
"It's become clear that this process has reached an impasse and that any further delay would unnecessarily waste valuable resources of the enterprise."
Things at Republic came to a head last July, when the airline acknowledged cutting four percent of its flights due to a dearth of pilots. Delta subsequently filed suit against Republic, alleging breach of contract.
- Pay gap -
Aviation industry insiders cite a number of factors for the drop-off in pilots: longer working hours, contentious relations with management, fewer job protections and industry turnover with the expected retirement of some 18,000 pilots through 2022.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.yahoo.com ...
Some of the regionals pay very low, approaching minimum wage. Only attraction is flight time to get on the big carriers.
Just noticed your freep name.
Quick, summon the H1b visa genie!
Flooding the pilot pool with underpaid muslim imports will fix everything.
What could possibly go wrong?
Plus millenials think driving a stick shift is beyond their capabilities.
Regional carriers pay pilots an average of $27,350 per year, according to Paul Ryder, a captain at ExpressJet Airlines who is active with the ALPA. That compares with an annual salary of $103,390 at large airlines, according to US Labor Department data.
Aspiring pilots must pay between $150,000 to $200,00 to obtain their license, Ryder said.
Three years ago, US regulators stiffened the requirements on pilots following a 2009 Colgan Air crash near Buffalo, New York, that killed 49 people.
Commercial pilots must now have 1,500 hours of flight time before qualifying for their pilot's license, compared with just 250 prior to the rule shift.
So if you want to be an airline pilot, which can be one of the most stressful jobs in the world with an awesome responsibility, you can look forward to being paid peanuts at the regionals.
True. Very true, and that has been the carrot and stick approach for years. But there is an alarming trend to those pilots stuck at the regionals. The article mentioned it.
Today, the regional sector accounts for half or more of all flying, and pilots are realizing that a job with a regional often means an entire... career with a regional," Smith said.
As the article points out, the pay for regional pilots is atrocious. A pilot who was not former military or did not have a corporate aviation job must pay a small fortune out of his own pocket to get the hours that is required since the accident in Buffalo. That co-pilot made about $17,000 a year. Instead of increasing salaries for the regionals, the FAA and the airlines simply put the burdern of more flying hours required on the pilot applicants.
That’s because over the past 50 years there’s been an abundance of pilots. I think a factor now is new pilots can go overseas and make much better salaries and benefits as well as free training.
Yes the pay is a factor, but for me when they required 1,500 hours to be hired is the real reason of the shortage.
alot pilots or pilots wannabees don't want to work for a living, so they have in the past accepted the lower wages
There is a pilot shortage?
Forgive my ignorance, since I just saw “An Officer and a Gentleman” again last night. But aren’t pilots with military training still a big source of pilots for airlines? Or has our military downsized so that they just aren’t producing that many? Or are many military pilots staying in making a career in the military, rather than retiring from the military and becoming pilots in civilian life???
I used to know a regional pilot - he came to work in the same trucking company I was with.
He wanted the pay raise.
Owner operator truckers take home low six figure incomes for regional work....
Yes, open a recruiting office in Saudi Arabia. They produce a lot of pilots. /sarc
Oh come on. You can get a CFI with an MEI and rack up 1500 hours in a year or two. Even get 50-100 multi. There are still plenty of jobs out there, and they pay about what the commuters do.
The Jonathan Ornsteins of the industry did this. It used to be impossible to get a job at the carriers with less then 5000 hours. Too much, but that was the market. At least people who survived that knew what they were doing - and mostly did NOT dump a Dash 8 into the ground with 50 souls on board.
The salaries will rise when they can't fly their contracted flights. The regionals are fee for departure - the majors pay them to push people into their system. Either they meet their contracts or they go under. Eventually it will happen: they have to get the qualified people. And pay them.
What say you?
So what’s the bottom line? That pay and benefits will rise to get more pilots in there if needed?
It shocks me a bit to see some of these pilots earn less than someone working in an office in a file clerk / hired help type job.
Well I know you’re joking about Saudi.
But this field will be a target for H1B visa type recruitment. If this field truly has trouble finding American pilots to work, they will go overseas.
I was a military pilot, and I flew Learjet as well, but I never went to the airlines. After a military career, I wanted a job where I was not away from home and was not on call.
At times I have regretted my decision, but mostly not, and I am quite happy.
Almost all of my fellow pilot from my military training class are still flying for the airlines. Most got out before a 20 or 25 year career. In the mid-1990s, many of the Vietnam era pilots were retiring and there was a huge hiring boom.
But in the mid-1990s, one could expect to stay the regionals for a very short time, and the pension plans were fantastic. No longer.
The downsizing of the military has had a very detrimental effect on the airline's pool of candidates. The cutbacks to the military have been very deep, and very real.
Some regionals pay below minimum wage; $8.75/hr. On top of that, a pilot is only guaranteed 75 hours per month. To get more they have to wait stand-by at the airport. It is often common to see a pilot trying to get 100 hours in a month spend 300-400 hours to get it. Most beginner pilots see their home only 3-4 days in a month.
One of my offspring left the Navy 10 months ago. A regional approached them and offered the low paying job of regional pilot. They said no and moved on. Another guy I know is making six figures flying for an emergency recovery outfit. !5 years US Army helo pilot.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.