Pilots at two regional carriers under American Airlines are getting a huge pay raise.
On Friday, the American wholly owned regional carriers Piedmont Airlines and Envoy Air reached a deal with the Air Line Pilots Association to increase pilot pay through August 31, 2024, both carriers announced on Saturday.
Under the new contract, first-year captains will earn $146 an hour, and entry-level first officers will make $90 an hour at both airlines. The previous pilot pay rates were $78 and $51 an hour at Piedmont, respectively. Envoy captains’ former pay rate was $86 an hour.
The raise is “industry-leading,” according to Envoy, nearly double what is offered at competitor carriers like Republic Airways and GoJet. The highest first-year regional first-officer pay rate up until the news was $52.98 an hour, The Points Guy reported.
Piedmont said the new pay scale averaged 57% higher than that of Delta Air Lines’ wholly owned carrier, Endeavor Air, which is now the US’s third-highest-paying regional airline.
“Including all bonuses, a new hire pilot should expect to make 31% more than pilots at Endeavor and 10% more than pilots at leading Ultra Low-Cost Carriers (ULCCs) over the first five years,” Piedmont said in a press release.
The pilots with the biggest pay increase are line-check airmen, who will get $427.50 an hour under the new contract. These pilots help train other crew members but have been leaving for mainline airlines faster than other groups, Piedmont CEO Eric Morgan told The Points Guy.
“It is a strategic move to make sure that we can keep our training and qualification process moving and not have to put a limit on how many new pilots you can train and qualify because you don’t have enough line check airmen to get in the seat with them and fly the line and qualify them,” he said.
The news comes as regional carriers struggle to hire and retain pilots amid a pilot shortage because mainline carriers are scooping them up and paying them more. Mesa Airlines CEO Jonathan Ornstein told CNBC in May that his company could “use about 200 pilots” and that it took 120 days to replace a pilot who left for a bigger carrier.
Carriers have battled the shortage with aggressive hiring campaigns, retention bonuses, and, in extreme cases, grounding aircraft. United Airlines grounded 100 regional jets in December, and American grounded 100 of its own in June because the carrier didn’t have enough pilots to fly them.
One carrier has pushed for reduced training requirements to get more pilots flying sooner. In April, Republic asked the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to hire pilots from its training academy with 750 hours instead of the 1,500 hours needed for most first officers.
“Republic is not proposing overturning the 1500-hour rule or weakening safety; to the contrary, we are proposing a more intensive, mission-specific training pathway similar to what is permitted for military pilots under current law,” Republic CEO Bryan Bedford said in a statement to Insider.
There are already exemptions in place for pilots who have earned a two- or four-year degree that allow them to fly at the regional level with 1,250 or 1,000 hours, respectively.
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