Release #: 21.68
December 17, 2021

ALPA Addresses Pilot Pipeline Following Senate Commerce Hearing

WASHINGTON—The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) issued the following statement in response to the robust discussion on pilot supply that took place yesterday during the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on airline industry oversight:

“The suggestion by network carriers that a lack of available pilots is the reason for leaving smaller markets is absurd and simply incorrect. The major ALPA carriers have approximately the same number of pilots currently as they did pre-pandemic. 

“Year over year, the United States is producing more pilots than can be hired by the airlines, with more than 1.5 certificated pilots relative to demand. With demand for air travel increasing and the end of the Payroll Support Program requirement that airlines maintain scheduled air transportation service, including service to small and remote communities, various airlines are making calculated business decisions about their fleets and networks.  

“Rather than be held to account for their business decisions during this hearing, they chose to raise the red herring of pilot supply instead of admitting they are choosing to abandon these communities. In fact, in 2020, some airlines canceled contracts with their regional feeder airlines that previously served small markets, which also resulted in 2,000 unemployed pilots. There is no mystery here: There are more than enough airline pilots today, and efforts to raise supply problems are meant to roll back the training requirements that have resulted in an unprecedented period of domestic airline safety.

“No one is more committed than ALPA to ensuring we have an adequate supply of highly trained pilots while maintaining our strong airline safety record. The industry’s success rides on the back of customer confidence in getting to and from their destinations safely. Any suggestion that reducing the training of pilots to address a nonexistent pilot supply issue is reckless to say the least.

“After the changes in 2010 to pilot training and fatigue rules, the U.S. airline industry was experiencing it’s safest and most profitable period in history, prior to the global pandemic. We look forward to working with those who expressed support today for addressing the pilot pipeline with additional federal support and sharing our ideas on how to diversify the workforce. However, we are unequivocal when it comes to safety—reducing pilot training and qualification requirements is not on the table, and fact-free declarations of pilot supply problems will not go unanswered. ALPA will defend the pilot safety culture that protects our airspace from any attack.”

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents more than 61,000 pilots at 38 U.S. and Canadian airlines. Visit the ALPA website at or follow us on Twitter @ALPAPilots.


CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703-481-4440 or