Real Answers from Real Pilots

Will the future Pilot Shortage make employment easier?


(Tom) #1

I’d like to think this is an obvious question, but the Airline industry is a complex one, so without checking out any more of ATP’s website bar graphs, web articles, or Youtube videos on the topic, I’m now going to ask you, the actual Pilots about what your thoughts on the future pilot shortage are:

Are the Major Airlines struggling, or beginning to struggle to find enough qualified Pilots to meet the demand in the U.S today, or is it really just the regionals, and not so much the majors that are currently struggling to maintain a fair quantity of qualified pilots?

I ask this because there are different statistical sources out there that are throwing around different numbers of Pilots that will be reaching mandatory retirement, the most common number i’m seeing is roughly 15,000 by 2026 in the United States (ten years from now give or take). I look at some of these statistics and get exited thinking, “wow this industry is really going to need me in the future!”

But I wanted to run this by with all of you, because I don’t want to have my hopes too high thinking i’m just going to waltz in from the regionals to the major airlines 8-10 years from now when I start training next year. I understand how competitive getting employed on a major airline as a pilot can be, and that nothing is 100% guaranteed. But is it likely that the application process will be far less competitive when considering the future Pilot shortage, in other words, will my generation of Pilots have a much easier time getting employed by the majors?

Feel free to correct my statistical statements above if they’re wrong, and any other facts you know that I didn’t ask about above or should be aware of concerning the shortage. I noticed you guys already answered the pilot shortage question to someone else, except they seemed to be more interested in loans, salaries, benefits. So i’m only asking about the shortage itself, and the pros and cons it will have for the actual pilots in the future.


#2

Thomas,

Actually the answer isn’t so obvious because as you said, this industry is complicated. The short answer is right now while the Regionals are hurting (which is why you see them raising pay, offering hiring bonuses, etc) the Majors are not. The Majors do however realize what’s happening which is why they’re working with their Regional partners and offering flow-thru agreements. So right now things are good AND more important they’re forecasted to remain good for a while. The problem is when you start looking down the road 8-10 yrs since none of us have crystal balls. In 2000 things were also very good in the industry. The airlines were making money and hiring was strong (not as strong as now but very good). 9/11 happened and the industry was severely crippled and remained so for a few years. When I was hired at ExpressJet, again things were very good. They were hiring like crazy and I upgraded in under 2 yrs. THEN the price of oil started creeping up, and creeping up, and creeping up and the next thing I knew hiring stopped, guys were furloughed or downgraded and found themselves in the right seat for 7-8 yrs. I’m not trying to paint a bleak picture but the reality is the airline industry is tied to the economy and many other factors and sometimes bad things happen. Not always but they do.

On the positive side as you point out also there will be record retirements and the consolidation in the industry has strengthened the Majors that are left.

Put it all together and I’m what I like to call “cautiously optimistic”. If you were my son asking I would honestly say I think you’ll be good.

Adam


#3

Thomas,

As of right now the major airlines are not struggling to fill their positions. These are high paying jobs and are very desirable. That being said, I think that your timing is great for entering the industry. The majors are hiring in record amounts and as your statistics show that will continue. Get in build your flight time, make sure that you have your college degree, keep your record clean and you should have a relatively easy time getting over to the majors. Of course I have to give the usual disclaimer that individual results may vary, but I can tell you that there has never been a better time to enter the industry and that the majors should be hiring for the foreseeable future.

Chris


#5

Thomas,

This really is the best time to get into aviation that I have ever seen, but don’t wait any longer, the industry waits for nobody.

Chris