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Why is there a pilot shortage? Ask a pilot

image courtesy of StockSnap from Pixabay

A retired Southwest Airlines Captain and former naval aviator discusses why he believes there is a pilot shortage in the US.

Air travel is in high demand with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reporting almost 9 million people traveling just over the Fourth of July weekend alone. This figure surpasses the number of people that were traveling that same weekend before there was such a thing as COVID.

All this traveling is taking place – as best as it can be – despite the numerous flight delays and cancellations. How numerous? Over 100,000 US airline flights were canceled so far this year, and we are only about half-way through the year.

So what is causing all these flights to be cancelled or delayed? Pinkston News Service spoke with Buzz Collins, a retired Southwest Airlines Captain and former naval aviator, to discuss just this on a podcast.

Collins strongly feels that airlines can make the career of being a pilot more attractive if they would stop probation pay for new pilots. He said:

“When I got hired, your first year, you’re on probation and you’re getting paid not much that first year. And they [the industry] really kind of take advantage of new guys. And I’ve never thought that was right. So, I think that that [probation pay] should just be done away with. Now, I know that they’ve really improved on that, and it’s not as bad as it used to be, but I think it should just go away altogether.”

“Most guys that go into this have spent a considerable amount of money to get called to do it.”

Even as was in his case, coming out of military service, he had to pay out of pocket expenses in order to attain civilian ratings as a pilot.

An airline CEO estimates that there are around 5,000-7,000 new pilots in the US each year. Comparing that to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data that there will be approximately 14,500 airline and commercial pilot openings every single year until 2030, that is a huge disparity between supply and demand.

Regardless of the high potential for delays and cancellations, the hurdles do not seem to be deterring the US traveler. So if you’re looking for a job, have you thought about being a pilot?

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About the author

Linda Hohnholz, eTN editor

Linda Hohnholz has been writing and editing articles since the start of her working career. She has applied this innate passion to such places as Hawaii Pacific University, Chaminade University, the Hawaii Children's Discovery Center, and now TravelNewsGroup.

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