In January, AOPA reported on hiring data collected by FAPA showing that 2021 now holds the record for the most pilots hired since the year 2000. FAPA reports that the 12 major airlines hired 1,136 and 1,049 pilots in January and February, respectively. Compare that to January 2021’s 91 pilots and January 2020’s 618 pilots, and it would appear we have exited the pandemic-induced hiring slump and are on our way to more record-breaking years ahead. FAPA’s March 2022 Hiring Bulletin reports that the U.S. major airlines are projected to hire 10,204 pilots by the end of the year.
Pilot is still the top in-demand job for 2022, with many airlines offering hiring incentives including bonuses and better pay and airlines dropping the four-year college degree requirement, as Delta Air Lines did in January.
The limited supply of willing and qualified pilots has continued to cause challenges to major airlines, FAPA reports, and in response, many airlines have announced their own career programs.
United Airlines recently announced a “flow-through” program with United Express partners Air Wisconsin Airlines, CommutAir, GoJet Airlines, and Mesa Airlines. United also announced that JSX, the “hop-on” jet service, is now an official United Aviate Part 135 partner.
SkyWest Airlines recently announced its partnership with Southwest Airlines through Southwest’s Destination 225° career pathway.
Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air have launched the Ascend Pilot Academy in collaboration with Oregon’s Hillsboro Aero Academy.
FAPA also reported that Utah-based Breeze Airways is currently hiring captains and first officers as well as increasing its pilot pay scales.
JSfirm.com Executive Director Abbey Hutter said, “2022 is shaping up to be exactly as JSfirm.com predicted last year. Companies are scrambling and competing with each other to attract and retain qualified candidates. The current job market is candidate driven and they have plenty of job opportunities in front of them.”
Although hiring numbers are looking up, rising fuel prices and possible changes to flight time requirements may have a negative influence on hiring and the aviation industry.
“Industry pundits are watching the escalating price of aviation fuel and are concerned about the financial impacts on all types of pilot employers,” said FAPA President Louis Smith, who also addressed speculation that the FAA might opt to reduce the flight time required for airline pilots as part of a planned overhaul of regulations governing flight instruction. While changing the number of hours required to serve on an airline flight deck might enable more pilots to qualify, Smith said any such move would cut two ways: “An immediate and significant reduction in the flight time requirements for new airline pilots would trigger massive attrition of flight instructors at the flight schools and colleges.”
Other outside influences on the industry are being closely watched as well. Sam Scanlon, managing partner for JSfirm.com, gave his insight to AOPA: “The world is watching the unfortunate situation taking place in Europe with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. What effect these events have on our aviation market is yet to be seen. However, even with these measures and our market entering a correction area, we are still seeing unprecedented job postings and job feed integrations. It remains a candidate driven, highly competitive market. Companies are becoming very proactive in their approach to recruiting. Our Advanced Services that include Target Outreach Programs for clients was our largest growth product this first quarter. Proactive Recruiting vs Reactive Recruiting is a must and will likely continue.”