Regional Airline Managements Must Create a Job People Want

Guest Commentary by Sam Pool, Envoy Master Executive Council Chairman

Becoming an airline pilot has never been a cheap or easy proposition. It requires extensive education, training, and experience. The career tack for aspiring pilots is challenging—and expensive.

Logic would dictate that those who endure and succeed would be rewarded with pay and benefits that match the investment. However, many regional airlines are not adapting—starting pilot salaries at many remain less than $30,000. 

Nowhere is this failure to adapt more evident than in the so-called “pilot shortage.” To be clear, there is no shortage of individuals qualified or interested in becoming qualified to fly airliners. However, there is absolutely a shortage of individuals willing to assume the responsibilities of an airline pilot for the compensation currently being offered. Compelling evidence indicates that this shortage can be mitigated—those airlines that offer higher compensation are having no problems finding pilots to fly their planes.

Looking at the numbers of only some of the U.S. regional airlines with first-year salaries below $30,000 in a recent ALPA news release, it is clear to see why a prospective pilot would be hesitant to invest in this career. You’ll note that none of the major brands are on this list. American, Delta, United, JetBlue, and Southwest offer rewarding careers and have no shortage of applicants waiting to fill training classes. 

The U.S. regional airline industry presently finds itself in a perilous descent. It will take skill, concentration, and a deft hand to safely navigate this course. Even more importantly, it requires situational awareness. Regional airline managements simply must recognize that inattention or inaction on this issue will leave all parties involved in an unnecessarily precarious situation. 

It’s up to regional airline managements to create a job that people want. As always, ALPA stands ready to help.

Categories: Pilot Groups, Industry


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