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Pilot Shortage Is Here


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  • 8 months later...
On 5/2/2020 at 12:35 PM, Guest said:

How times have changed. A pilot shortage has now turned into a pilot surplus.  You do have to wonder what this will do to wages.  Lots of pilots seeking few jobs might, and let's hope not, result in a overall reduction in pay for all who do find a job and might accept a lower wage vs no wage at all. I see some military forces are attempting to  entice  some of their younger retirees back to deal with their real pilot shortage. 

As for the AMEs, cabin crews and support staff, they too will be facing a shortage of positions and that will also likely result in an overall reduction in wages.  

Airport fees will increase because there will be fewer flights and a lot of airports have turned themselves into large scale shopping malls with large debts, expect announcements re the need to increase the AIFs at these airports. 

Airlines will be scrambling to cancel most new aircraft orders and since fuel prices are down, may elect to serve what passenger needs remain with older, less fuel efficient aircraft.


The coming months will be hard on all who are involved. 


Nearly 800 pilots have applied for jobs at Frontier Airlines with only 100 open spots - here's what execs look for when hiring
tpallini@businessinsider.com (Thomas Pallini)  1 hour ago
Frontier Airlines is looking to hire 100 pilots with nearly 800 applications already received. 
The ultra-low-cost carrier is one of the few hiring pilots during an industry downturn.
We spoke to Frontier's vice president of flight operations to see what makes a great candidate. 
Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
It's been nearly a year since Frontier Airlines froze pilot hiring in March, at the start of what would be a crippling period for travel. But as aviation enters a new year focused on recovery, the ultra-low-cost carrier is ready to bring more pilots into the cockpit. 

The application window for Frontier's latest round of pilot hiring opened on January 27 with prospective pilots having until February 17 to apply. Only around 100 pilots will get to join the airline's ranks this time around despite potentially thousands of applicants and nearly 800 applications submitted in the first seven days. 

While getting a spot at a major carrier like Frontier has never been easy, the pandemic is making it even more difficult as there's no shortage of unemployed yet highly-qualified pilots eager to get back in the air. Pilots looking to get a foot in the door at the Denver-based carrier will have to be strategic in how they present themselves when applying.  

Read More: Spirit Airlines' low-cost model puts it in the perfect spot to be the big winner of the pandemic, a Deutsche Bank analyst says

Here's what the airline looks for when hiring pilots.

A pilot ready to choose stability over glamour
Frontier's primary focus is domestic leisure travel with a growing number of routes to the Caribbean and Latin America. For pilots, that means exclusively flying narrow-body Airbus A320 family aircraft mostly on domestic hops instead of larger wide-bodies on intercontinental flights to exotic overseas locales. 

Long-haul international flying is a glamorous perk enjoyed by those flying for the big three - American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Air Lines - but the pandemic and past economic crises have shown just how fragile that type of flying can be. Frontier's proposition is stability over glamour. 

"Some of the perks you may see at a larger international carrier, we don't have those," Brad Lambert, Frontier Airlines' vice president of flight operations, told Insider. "But in exchange for that, you get long-term stable employment, quick upgrade, and we think a very bright future in terms of schedule and basing and things like that, that are always important. Quality of life, really."

Ultra-low-cost carriers are proving to be rebounding faster than their international-oriented competitors thanks to an increase in domestic travel, which Frontier believes will help pilots better weather economic storms. 

Frontier is also in growth mode with recently opened bases in cities like Miami and more to be potentially opened in 2020. New planned routes also take Frontier as far south as El Salvador in just one of many expansions announced in 2020.   

"With growth comes, more crew bases, quicker upgrades, better stability, better seniority to be able to bid better schedules, and instead of having a kind of a contracting business environment, we've really got an expanding business environment," Lambert said.

A first officer can typically upgrade to a captain in as little as three years, Lambert says, which comes with an increase in pay and responsibility. More importantly for some, Frontier's model also gives pilots more control over their schedules.

"Being home more often and spending more time with your family, those are the types of family values that you get when you fly Frontier," Lambert said. "And I think that's huge."



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If you thought there was a shortage of pilots before,  wait till this is over. Frontier is smart. Maybe some of the new hires will stay. 

 There will be not enough pilots,  not enough aircraft,  and  nobody to fix them. 

 Let's hope the people that run the place use it as an opportunity to make some money for a change. 

 For years I have thought that if you raised the fares 25 cents a week for 3 months,  you would not know what to do with all the money ?

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The top of the seniority lists are venturing off to "Dot Land" at an alarming rate.  There are no new people coming into the bottom. 

 Add to that the number of existing people at the bottom of the seniority lists that will not return. 

 Old aircraft are being removed permanently from service.  New aircraft are not being built. 

 Even with the obvious good reasons not  to, and ridiculous rules forcing the decision,  everyone I know wants to travel. 

 Everybody in Canada will be vaccinated by September.  Every day new treatments are discovered to help patients recover. 

 Just my $.02 worth. 

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1 hour ago, Tango Foxtrot said:

Add to that the number of existing people at the bottom of the seniority lists that will not return.

Agree with you here TF.  Just last week I was contacted to provide a reference for a (very junior) laid off AC pilot. When we spoke in advance, I asked him if this was a "temporary move while laid off, or a full-on career change" (paraphrasing). In short, he's seen enough, and will make the decision when it's presented to him, but at this point he's ready for a new challenge (IT infrastructure/Programming remotely job).

My experience with many of the younger-Millennial and Gen Z personalities is that there is not the commitment to any one career anymore- even the opportunity of flying at the major airlines doesn't matter.  It will be even harder to return to being paid airline entry wages comparatively when quite likely, working elsewhere will pay more.

The shortage will return barring some further freak economic nail.

Now if only Trudeau and his posse would start addressing the issue we could be prepared for it. In the short term however, he's giving us the finger.

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  • 4 months later...

Back To Pre-COVID? United Airlines CEO Sees Pilot Shortages Returning

  • byAndrew Curran
  • June 22, 2021
  • 3 minute read
  • United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby is flagging a looming pilot shortage, saying the military isn’t producing pilots at the rate they used to. It is a long term structural problem at many airlines the recent worldwide travel downturn has highlighted. Consequently, airlines like United are having to change the way they recruit and train their pilots.

This year, short-staffed airlines are beginning to experience some real-life consequences. Competitor Delta Air Lines has previously canceled swathes of flights allegedly due to pilot shortages. More recently, American Airlines canceled hundreds of flights over the weekend owing to staff shortages and is trimming its schedule through July as a consequence.

The cancelations have left tens of thousands of travelers bumped. delayed, and otherwise inconvenienced. As a result, airlines suffer reputationally and burn goodwill. Speaking to news website Axios on Monday, Scott Kirby said;


“Down the road, there is probably going to be a pilot shortage here in the United States.”

Traditionally, airlines everywhere have poached/recruited pilots from Air Forces. The longstanding practice is the bane of Air Forces worldwide. They lose their expensively trained and highly skilled pilots to better-paid jobs in the commercial airline sector. The practice has always been a bit of a cop-out on the part of commercial airlines. They effectively outsource training costs and responsibilities to the taxpayer.

“The military produces far fewer pilots today than they did in the Vietnam and Cold War era,” admits Mr Kirby. “It’s hard to become a commercial pilot on your own if you are not going through the military.”


United Airlines turns to training pilots in-house

With domestic flying almost recovered in the United States, airlines are once again looking to hire more pilots.  Last year, United Airlines was warning it would need to let some 16,000 employees go, including nearly 3,000 pilots. In the end, United Airlines permanently lost fewer pilots than that. But like its competitor airlines, United was ill-prepared for the swift rebound in travel demand this year.

In April, with United Airlines experiencing unexpected but welcome uplift, they began rehiring pilots. First off the blocks were 300 new pilot positions offered to prospective United pilots who had conditional offers or start dates delayed in 2020.


In the same month, United Airlines said it planned to train 5,000 pilots by 2030. Those pilots will be trained in-house at their own pilot training school. United said it would spend over US$1 billion on scholarships to break the traditional white male pilot mould.


Futures of flight attendants & ground staff secure at United Airlines

The USAF will probably welcome United Airlines (and other airlines) taking responsibility for training up their own pilots. But it’s not just pilots finding themselves in demand again. United Airlines has recently told flight attendants, ramp workers and customer service agents in the United States their jobs were safe because of rising travel demand. That is despite federally funded payroll assistance ending in a few months.

“Given the current outlook for the future of United, we continue to move closer to full frontline staffing levels to support our operation,” United Airlines says in a statement.


With July around the corner, United Airlines is adding more than 400 flights a day to its schedules. The airline expects to operate at 80% of its summer 2019 capacity.

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Delta to Hire More Than 1,000 Pilots as It Plots Recovery

Move signals about an 8% gain in core operation’s pilot ranks

Mon Jun 21, 2021 - Bloomberg News
By Mary Schlangenstein

Delta Air Lines Inc. plans to hire more than 1,000 pilots by next summer to support its expected recovery from the devastation of the pandemic and an expansion of its route network.

Domestic leisure travel will return to pre-pandemic volumes this month, John Laughter, Delta’s operations chief, said in a memo to flight-operations employees Monday. Travel restrictions across the Atlantic should ease in the second half of the year, he said, building on recent market openings in Spain, France, Italy and Greece.

Delta had 12,940 pilots at the end of last year, excluding those at a wholly owned regional carrier. The new additions would mean an increase of about 8% in the number of pilots at the airline’s core operations.

U.S. airlines have been expanding flights in recent weeks to accommodate consumers who are packing planes for long-delayed vacations and family reunions. About 20% of Delta employees took early retirement or left voluntarily during the height of the pandemic last year, and more than half took unpaid leaves of varying lengths.

“This is all good news, but we should keep in mind that while our leisure customers are coming back, our fares aren’t back at the same level,” Laughter said. Delta has said it expects to report a profit for the month of June.

Delta will start the first training class this week for pilots who had received conditional job offers before coronavirus devastated travel demand. The Atlanta-based airline also said it would add 13 crew schedulers and a supervisor.

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American Airlines ‘was warned’ over shortages that prompted flight cancellations

Pilots’ union says US carrier is understaffed for planned increase of services as demand returns


Thu Jun 24, 2021 - The Financial Times
by Claire Bushey


'They say ‘Batter up!’ and hand us a hockey stick.'

American Airlines was warned that it did not have enough pilots to execute its ambitious summer flying schedule, the carrier’s union said, after the cancellation of hundreds of flights drew the ire of passengers.

The Fort Worth, Texas airline said this week that it would scale back its re-expansion plans after shortcomings were revealed by bad weather over the weekend. Staff shortages meant it could not quickly recover from weather disruption at its main hubs, forcing dozens of flights to be cancelled.

American has been the most aggressive of the three largest US carriers to add flights back to its schedule. Boosted by resurgent demand in the domestic market, American planned to sell only 5 per cent fewer seats in July than it did in 2019.

The company said on Monday that it was cutting about 1 per cent of its scheduled flights through to mid-July in order “to build in additional resilience”, underscoring the tricky task of carriers in scaling back up activity as the coronavirus pandemic wanes.

The Allied Pilots Association, which represents 15,000 pilots at American, said it had warned the airline that it was understaffed as a result of the furlough of employees it briefly imposed and the voluntary leave and early retirements it had accepted to get through the pandemic.

“We were warning them, ‘Hey, this [staffing level] is likely to be very strenuous on us when a weather event happens,’” said Dennis Tajer, the APA’s communications committee chair. “We don’t have enough pilots.”

Unlike rival airlines United and Delta, American briefly furloughed 1,600 of its pilots during a lull in receiving funds from the federal government’s Payroll Support Program, which was meant to buoy the airline industry through the pandemic when passenger numbers plummeted.

That made it more difficult to return pilots to active status immediately because US Federal Aviation Administration regulations require fresh training, Tajer said. The airline also had 1,000 pilots retire early.

The airline’s decision to retire 100 aircraft prompted further training requirements, so pilots could learn to fly a different jet. The airline’s training centre in Dallas-Fort Worth was “under great stress”, Tajer said, with the airline needing to rent off-campus simulator time.

“We’re elated that we’re flying so much, and we’re frustrated that we’re not getting the tools,” he said, before reaching for a baseball analogy. “They say ‘Batter up!’ and hand us a hockey stick.”

Bad weather has disrupted American hubs including Chicago, Miami, Dallas-Fort Worth and Charlotte, on nine of the first 15 days of June. That hampers an airline’s ability to effectively deploy planes and crews and effects can linger in the system when the available pilots and flight attendants butt up against rest periods mandated by federal regulations.

About a third of the cancellations American logged between June 18 and June 21 were because a flight crew was unavailable, according to a company report, the most common reason on all but one of those days.

“The first few weeks of June have brought unprecedented weather to our largest hubs, heavily impacting our operation,” the airline said. “We made targeted changes with the goal of impacting the fewest number of customers by adjusting flights in markets where we have multiple options for re-accommodation.”

Savanthi Syth, an analyst at Raymond James, said that without the Payroll Support Program — which distributed $63bn to airlines, including $12.8bn to American — more carriers would be struggling to accommodate the sudden surge in demand for domestic US travel.

“This is PSP doing its job,” she said. “Otherwise we would be in a much worse position than we are today.”

American’s decision to cut flights was “better than stranding people”, she said. “They saw the network needed more cushion.”

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On 6/22/2021 at 12:14 PM, Bobcaygeon said:

AC DFO announced recently that they will not be calling back pilots until business returns to 75% of 2019 levels. They anticipate call backs to begin in the Spring of 2023. 

All subject to change of course.

If there is significant demand, after the feds get of their a$$es and open thing up, I imagine this may be revisited.

Edited by AIP
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  • 2 weeks later...

Ryanair aims to hire 2,000 pilots over next three years

Low-cost airline embarks on recruitment spree for its new fleet of Boeing 737 Max jets

Mon Jul 12, 2021 - Financial Times
by Harry Dempsey

Ryanair is planning to hire 2,000 pilots over the next three years in one of the aviation industry’s biggest recruitment drives since the start of the pandemic.

The hiring spree will add to the current roster of 5,000 pilots at Europe’s largest airline. It is also aiming to increase annual passenger numbers by more than a third within three years over pre-pandemic levels.

“We are delighted to start planning for a return to growth over the coming years as we recover from the Covid-19 crisis and grow to 200m guests by financial year 2024,” said Darrell Hughes, people director at Ryanair.

In May last year, the company had warned that it would need to cut 3,000 jobs but said it escaped without making any of its pilots redundant during the pandemic. Some cabin crew have lost their jobs.

However, its pilots did agree to take a 20 per cent cut to their pay, which will be restored to its original levels over four years.

Ryanair said it needed more pilots to operate its new Boeing 737 Max jets — the first delivery of its order of more than 210 arrived last month. The new aircraft should help the company to reduce fuel use, carbon emissions and costs.

Ryanair will start training pilots this year, aiming to have them ready to fly by next summer.

Its investments in planes and staff contrast with difficulties elsewhere in the industry. As of April, more than 18,000 pilot jobs are threatened or have been permanently lost during the pandemic, according to the European Cockpit Association.

Ryanair is betting on pent-up demand for when curbs on overseas travel ease. Chief executive Michael O’Leary reckons that rivals will be unable to meet that demand, forecasting a 20 per cent fall in the number of short-haul seats available in Europe over the next few years.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Grounded Pilots Swamp Aviation Recruiters in Fight for Jobs


Sat Jul 31, 2021 - Bloomberg News
by Angus Whitley


'Even if a pilot lands a job, the generous pre-pandemic compensation packages of around $24,000 a month have more than halved because pilots aren’t flying so many hours'

(Bloomberg) -- When U.K.-based Goose Recruitment kicked off a recent campaign to find 30 Boeing Co. 737 cargo pilots for a client in Europe, 400 resumes poured in within 48 hours. Most of the applicants used to fly commercial passenger jets.

“Pre-Covid, most airline pilots would look down their noses at flying cargo,” Goose’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Charman said in an interview from his office in Southampton on England’s south coast. “Now they’re like, ‘Pick me!’”

This clamor for work is being reflected around the world, as desperate pilots who’ve been grounded by the pandemic for more than a year mob recruiters for the few new flying jobs on the market in a last-ditch effort to save their aviation careers.

Wasinc International Ltd., which recruits overseas pilots for Chinese and Japanese airlines, is getting so many emails from out-of-work applicants that it no longer needs to advertise the roles it is trying to fill. Job applications from down-on-their-luck aviators, from Brazil and Mexico to Canada and Europe, have jumped at least 30-fold from pre-virus days, Wasinc CEO Dave Ross said in an interview from his home in Las Vegas.

While a rebound in U.S. domestic air travel offers some hope, the pleas for work reflect an industry decimated by the crisis. Temporary and permanent job losses at the four biggest carriers in the U.S. exceeded 150,000 last year, including pilots and other staff. Global airline capacity is still wallowing 31% below normal levels, according to OAG.

Aggressive waves of the fast-spreading delta variant also threaten to push back a travel recovery, which could bring more trouble to the industry as pilots leave for good to retire, look for other work or as their flying qualifications expire. That risks leaving a shortage of skilled operators in the cockpit whenever a firmer recovery takes hold.

Airline pilots must typically pass two proficiency checks a year, and additional qualifications tied to specific aircraft types can expire in 12 or 24 months. A survey in January found that more than half of the world’s commercial pilots were no longer flying for a living.

Wasinc has just four Chinese carriers including Sichuan Airlines Corp. accepting applications from overseas pilots, down from 23 before the pandemic. Covid travel restrictions make it hard for foreign pilots to enter China for assessments, Ross said. Even if a pilot lands a job, the generous pre-pandemic compensation packages of around $24,000 a month have more than halved because pilots aren’t flying so many hours, he said.

Ross said many of the pilots on his books looking for work are approaching the end of their validity periods. With the outlook so bleak, some are opting to leave the industry altogether. “I don’t think we can avoid the fact that maybe in less than a year, there’s going to be a shortage,” he said.

Boeing said late last year the world will need 763,000 new pilots by 2039, even if Covid-19 had temporarily put a brake on traffic growth. Some are hiring again, trying to play catchup in markets experiencing a rebound. American Airlines Group Inc. will hire 350 pilots this year and 1,000 in 2022, 50% more than previously planned.

Ryanair Holdings Plc is also adding 2,000 pilots over the next three years to grab market share from weakened rivals. The low-cost airline needs pilots to fly the new Boeing 737 Max jets it began taking in June. Delta Air Lines Inc. plans to hire more than 1,000 pilots by next summer as domestic leisure travel returns.

These bursts of activity aren’t enough to soak up the current excess of crew, according to Goose’s CEO and founder Charman. Even his company’s campaign that attracted a rush of applicants was put on ice due to “changes in our client’s business,” he said.

It’s not just senior pilots with pensions and savings who are quitting now that jobs have dried up, Charman said. There are signs that career aspirations are dwindling for junior pilots too. “They’ve given up,” he said. “Our prediction is that, very quickly, we will have a real problem in the aviation sector.”

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