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Airlines Push to Hire Pilots, Flight Crews

As the United States continues to emerge from the depths of the global pandemic, the nation’s three largest airlines have begun recruitment efforts in earnest.  They are focusing on hiring pilots and flight attendants right now.

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said that more than 20,000 new jobs will open up in the next 24 months, with a goal of having total flight attendant employment at 100,000 positions.  

While the push will bring employment back to pre-pandemic levels, the hiring initiative is happening sooner than industry analysts expected.  Philip Baggaley of Standard and Poor’s said, “It’s certainly an indication of the confidence there will be a substantial recovery by the year’s end.”

While leisure travel is leading the charge as airlines are seeing near-pre-pandemic levels of passenger demand, business and international travel are still lagging. 

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics cited pre-pandemic employment with airlines at a post-9/11 peak of 757,000 full- and part-time positions in February 2020.  During the remainder of 2020, 18 percent of those jobs disappeared at the U.S.’s 11 publicly traded airlines.  These job losses came through buyouts, early retirement packages, and voluntary unpaid leaves that included retaining benefits and, in some cases, partial salaries.

According to ATP Flight School, airlines looking to hire pilots include: Allegiant, 184 pilots; Endeavor (offering pilots a $10k training completion bonus); Horizon, hiring first officers ($11k tuition reimbursement); Delta, hiring 75 pilots from June-August; American, 300 pilots by year-end; Envoy, hiring first officers; Republic, hiring first officers; SkyWest Airlines, hiring first officers; United, hiring “hundreds” of pilots; PSA, hiring 30 pilots every two weeks; Air Wisconsin, hiring first officers; Endeavor, hiring first officers; Frontier, hiring 100 pilots this year; GoJet, hiring first officers; Spirit, hiring 400 pilots this year; Delta, reactivating all pilots by October; FedEx, hiring 560 pilots this year; and UPS, hiring 227 pilots this year.