Sunday, January 13, 2013

American Eagle offers signing bonus as pilot shortage looms

In an email to prospective job seekers on Friday, American Eagle Airlines announced that it is offering a $5,000 signing bonus for newly hired pilots. At present, Eagle plans to hire 600 new pilots in 2013. New FAA rules require that new airline pilots meet Airline Transport Pilot license standards.

American Eagle notes that American Airlines, its parent company, is planning to hire 2,500 pilots over the next five years. Approximately half of the current list of Eagle pilots is expected to be hired by American or other major airlines.

The $5,000 bonus is paid at the beginning of training and requires a two year commitment to Eagle. According to Airline Pilot Central, American Eagle’s first year pay is $25 per hour with a 75 hour reserve guarantee. This works out to about $22,500 for the first year, not including the bonus. Pay is relatively flat for turboprop first officers, but FOs on jets, the majority of the fleet, will see an increase to $34 per hour and about $30,600 annually for the second year. Currently, the most junior captain has a hire date of May 2006, but as the major airlines ramp up their hiring, upgrades could potentially move much faster.

Last month, Aviation Week reported that an industry coalition has requested that the Government Accountability Office study the looming pilot shortage. The combination of increasing airline retirements and decreases in the number of pilots trained by the military and civilian schools is leading to a shortage of trained and experienced pilots that is first being felt by the regional airlines.

The shortage may force regional airlines to increase their pay to try to lure pilots away from more lucrative charter and corporate jobs. The signing bonuses may be the first attempt of the regionals to do so without having to amend union contracts.

Originally published on

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