The Norman Transcript

Editorials

March 4, 2014

The need for more pilots

NORMAN — As Americans increase their travel by air, regional carriers are likely to expand to meet that demand. The trouble may be hiring pilots to fly those routes.

The U.S airline industry needs to hire 1,900 to 4,500 new pilots annually over the next 10 years due to an expected surge in retirement, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office. The trouble is the salary may keep pilots from applying for those jobs.

Major airlines pay more, but the average starting salary for co-pilots at regional airlines is $22,500 per year or about $10.75 per hour.

Last month, Great Lakes airlines ended service in a handful of small cities because they couldn’t hire enough pilots. Their pay for a starting first officer: $16,500 per year, barely above minimum wage.

The Associated Press said there are about 66,000 pilots working for U.S. airlines. More than 109,000 pilots have first-class medical certificates and are licensed to fly passengers.

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