A recent article in the June 21, 2011 issue of USA today reported that after years of drought of job openings, the airline industry is about to start hiring pilots at a rate never before seen in history. Boeing has estimated there will be an estimated need for over 460,000 new commercial pilots by 2029 — an average of 23,300 new pilots a year. The reason for the demand is multi-factorial; the mandatory retirement age for pilots was changed from 60 to 65 years of age in 2007. Almost five years later, there will be an increase in pilots leaving the airline for retirement. In addition there is an increased demand in the US for air travel overall as the economy improves.
The major airlines will have to make themselves attractive to prospective pilot employees in both compensation and benefits. The need to look for ways to support not only the current pilot population by while finding ways to feed the pilot pipeline to support the demand is a challenge the airlines will be forced to address. It will be interesting to see which airlines rise to the occasion. Otherwise they may see American pilots recruited by international airlines. Emirates, an airline based in Dubai, currently employ 300 American pilots and are actively recruiting. The benefit package of a US commercial pilot pale in comparison to perks such as a chauffeur-driven car to and from work, an education allowance for the pilot’s family, and profit sharing offered by Emirates.
The good news is that our former scholarship recipients who have faced stiff competition in the past, will now after have an excellent opportunity to start working in their chosen career field. So right now, if you are fortunate enough to be ready to start your career as a professional pilot, the sky’s the limit!