The United States is seeing its biggest pilot shortage in recent memory, pushing airlines to cancel flights just as passengers begin to come home after more than two years of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The sector is searching for answers as a result of the situation.
At least one legislator is known to be exploring legislation that would raise the legally mandated retirement age for airline pilots from 65 to 67 or higher, allowing them to stay in the air longer.
A minor airline has recommended lowering the number of flying hours required to join a US carrier, and airlines are revising training programs to decrease the entrance hurdle. Delta Air Lines joined other major airlines in removing a four-year degree from its pilot recruiting criteria earlier this year.
Several American airlines, notably Frontier, are looking for Australian pilots. For certain short itineraries, American Airlines is offering bus tickets.
However, some airline executives warn that resolving the deficit might take years.
Because of the pilot shortage, Kirby estimates that around 150 regional airlines United works with are presently grounded.
As training and licensing stalled due to the Covid epidemic, pilot recruiting came to a standstill. When travel demand plummeted during the crisis, airlines offered early retirement incentives to thousands of pilots and other personnel in an effort to minimize labor costs.
Airlines are scrambling to find and train pilots, but the rush might cause flight cancellations.
According to Kit Darby, a pilot compensation consultant and a retired United captain, major U.S. airlines are attempting to attract more than 12,000 pilots this year alone, more than double the previous annual hiring record.
Regional carriers that feed large airlines’ hubs from smaller cities are severely affected. While hiring and retention bonuses have returned, salary is lower than at large airlines, and they are aggressively recruiting from smaller carriers.