Because pilot training programs were interrupted by the outbreak, ᴍᴀɴy pilots applied for early retirement benefits and fewer individuals entered the sector.
According to Faye Malarkey Black, the president of the Regional Airline Association, this aggravated an issue that previously existed because there weren’t enough new pilots entering the pipeline before the virus struck (RAA).
Airlines received $54 billion in taxpayer-funded relief as payroll support to combat the pandemic’s economic effects. Its goal was to retain pilots and other airline staff so they would be available when deᴍᴀɴd for travel by air increased. Instead, the airlines offered early retirement benefits and other inducements to quit, leaving them considerably more understaffed today.
However, Captain Casey Murray claimed that because fewer people were traveling due to the pandemic, those who were still flying could satisfy the lower deᴍᴀɴd, providing a temporary respite from the scarcity. However, airlines have been working to catch up on hiring now that deᴍᴀɴd has returned.
They turned to regional airlines, which frequently serve as stepping stones for careers, for that.
There were thus “fewer pilots than ever” to fill the positions, according to Black, as airlines filled their openings with pilots from regional carriers and fewer new pilot certificates were issued in the previous two years.
According to Black, this has made it difficult for regional carriers to maintain their service and form alliances with major airlines, having a direct impact on the connectivity of small communities. Black claimed that the high cost of entry into the industry was a contributing factor in the long-term shortage of pilots. Financial help only covers a portion of the $80,000 to $100,000 or more cost of pilot training.
To address the issue, some airlines have developed training programs or even their own pilot schools. However, those might not be able to address the issue right away.
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Video resource: NewsNation