Well, this is an interesting take.
We’ve all heard about the ongoing pilot shortage. There simply aren’t enough available pilots to operate the demand for flights. Some pilots were furloughed, laid off, or took early retirement because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Right? Isn’t that what we’ve been told?
Reddit member (Or “Redditor,” in social media parlance) Tough-Memory-5232 responded to a thread titled, “An Open Letter to Customers From Delta Pilots.”
Tough-Memory-5232’s husband flies for a cargo airline — and apparently isn’t getting any love from the commercial passenger carriers regarding jobs.
“There is no pilot shortage. Ask my husband who is a pilot or his union. The airlines are too picky and too slow to hire, plus they are just whining trying to get the government to give them more bailouts or change pilot rules whether it be required training, retirement age, etc which none of the pilots I know want. And to be clear, part 117 rest rules cover airline pilots but not cargo pilots. So my husband as a cargo pilot just laughs when he hears an airline pilot complaining about rest as they get plenty. He would love to be in their shoes, but again, even though he is well qualified, he hasn’t even been called for an Interview.”
I realize this comment came from Reddit (where some posts are subjective and not everything may be 100% fact.) So, I contacted someone who works for one of the four legacy airlines — and is very familiar with flight operations.
“I don’t think there’s a shortage of qualified pilots,” this person told me. “But the pipeline for hiring pilots has been broken for a while.”
My source explained that when people are hired as pilots, they don’t necessarily go directly into the cockpit and immediately start flying passenger flights.
Take, for example, a regional airline pilot who goes from flying smaller aircraft (such as CRJs) to something in a major airline’s fleet (i.e., 737s, A320s, you get the idea). The newly hired pilot must undergo training for the new airline, obtain a type rating, get familiar with company policies, etc.
“Plus, some airlines didn’t hire for a year and a half because of COVID,” my source said. “It’s a problem self-inflicted by the airlines. A lot of instructor pilots took early out packages and left the airlines. So, now we need to get new pilots for those positions. That takes time. Plus, other staffers who are part of the pilot hiring and training process are also needed. Simulator time is at a premium right now. I think the situation may take another year to resolve fully.”
Based on that, it seems there’s a shortage of available actually-hired-by-the-airline-and-ready-to-go-fly-for-them-right-now pilots. It sorts of seems like this is sort of an “employment chain” issue.
Other Airline Industry Personnel or Experts: What’s Your Take?
Pilots and other airline employees who read the blog: what do you think? Is there a genuine shortage of pilots? Or, as my contact said, the pipeline busted?
Maybe a little bit of both? Are the regional airlines intentionally delaying their pilots being hired by majors — as has been alleged?
All of the above?
I know there are probably many different opinions and sides to this. Please tell us your thoughts in the below Comments section!
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