Release #: 21.23
April 08, 2021

ALPA Identifies Measures for the U.S. Government to Foster a More Accessible, Diverse, and Inclusive Pilot Workforce

McLEAN, Va.—The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) today sent a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg outlining a plan to reduce the costs of becoming an airline pilot and create a more diverse and inclusive air transportation workforce while ensuring that the United States continues to stand as the unquestioned global leader in aviation safety.

“ALPA believes that action in several critical areas will allow the United States to break down barriers to foster a more diverse and inclusive aviation workforce that reflects the communities and customers our industry serves,” said DePete. “As we work to expand and diversify our industry’s highly skilled, trained, and experienced pilot workforce, ALPA is also committed to furthering the dignity of work by insisting on an inclusive workplace for aviation employees irrespective of race, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or other diversity traits.”

To ensure that the piloting profession is welcoming and accessible to all, particularly those who have traditionally been underrepresented in our career, ALPA is urging the government to: 

  • Align federal funding support for the education required to become an airline pilot with that of other highly skilled professions by
    • Authorizing and increasing federal educational aid programs, such as the Pell Grant Program, to provide financial assistance to students pursuing two- and four-year degrees at post-secondary higher education institutions to cover the costs of aviation flight training;
    • Creating a student loan cancellation program that allows airline pilots to work for a specific period in exchange for loan forgiveness for airlines that serve the public need, including those that provide humanitarian relief through organizations, such as Air Serv International or Doctors Without Borders, and advance public health through the World Health Organization; and
    • Reviewing government guidelines to increase the number and amounts of subsidized loans available to students for flight training and ensure students who receive unsubsidized loans do not accrue interest on the loans while in school. 
  • Make aviation education more accessible to minorities and underrepresented groups by
    • Providing federal grants to minority serving institutions that want to start aviation professional flight degree programs or those that already offer two- and four-year degrees that include flight training and want to expand their programs; and
    • Providing federal support to other colleges and universities that serve underrepresented communities to begin aviation degree programs that include flight training.

“Some may argue that we should lower the safety bar to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the piloting profession, but we reject this false choice,” added DePete. “ALPA believes we can—and must—do more as a nation to open the doors of opportunity for those currently underrepresented in the piloting profession and maintain the highest safety standards in the world.”

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents over 59,000 pilots at 35 U.S. and Canadian airlines. Visit the ALPA website at or follow us on Twitter @ALPAPilots.


CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703-481-4440 or