Pilot shortage prompts airline to entice workers with interest-free loans


Last summer, when many travelers faced delays or canceled flights, airlines repeatedly invoked the same excuse: there are not enough pilots to meet demand.

Now an airline is trying to recruit more pilots by removing financial barriers to licensing.

On Thursday, Mesa Air Group announced the purchase of 29 training aircraft for new pilots to use to accumulate the federally mandated 1,500 flight hours, along with plans to eventually acquire 75 more over the course of the year. ‘next year.

Flight time is not free and is often a barrier for potential pilots. Mesa therefore plans to expand interest-free loans to ease the burden. Pilots in training with the airline will be entitled to up to 40 hours of flight time per week at a cost of $25 per hour, fully funded by Mesa.

Become a pilot

Mesa says the new trainer aircraft will form the backbone of its Mesa pilot development program. “Our program will be the most profitable and one of the fastest to a long-term career as a professional pilot,” John Hornibrook, SVP Flight Operations for Mesa, said in a press release. “We want to make it as easy as possible for a whole new group of candidates to join Mesa, including and especially people who might not have traditionally considered aviation.”

Those who take advantage of the program will also have priority status for employment with Mesa and repay their loans over a three-year period while employed by the airline, where the first-year pay rate is $100/hour. , according to the company.

The pilot shortage will get worse

Earlier this month, management consultancy Oliver Wyman published a report outlining a current shortage of 8,000 pilots in the commercial aviation industry, a shortage that is expected to reach 80,000 in space. a decade.

“Pilot shortages could become a permanent feature of the airline industry if we don’t bring more airmen into the system,” Jonathan Ornstein, Mesa’s president and CEO, said in the press release. “If there are not enough trained pilots, customers suffer from loss of service and high ticket prices.”

The program is expected to launch in Florida before expanding to Arizona next year. Once the program is fully established, it is expected to accommodate more than 1,000 pilots each year and 2,000 flight hours per day.

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