Pilots of a bankrupt airline in the United States receive job offers from other carriers, days after the bankruptcy. The pilot shortage is real!
In many fields, preparing for a job interview is serious business. But it’s fair to say that pilot job interviews are more elaborate than most. For brand new pilots, they last 2-3 days, and they are far from quick deals, even for those with years of experience. So to hear that an airline in the United States is making job offers to pilots without interviews is quite unique.
But not just one airline is doing this. Piedmont Airlines and Envoy Air make such conditional offers, for pilots who have previously flown for ExpressJet Airlines. ExpressJet, unfortunately, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on August 23. Companies that undergo this process often continue to operate, but this regional carrier has ceased all operations.
Interview-free job offers for American pilots: why?
Piedmont and Envoy are also regional carriers. Both operate such flights on behalf of American Airlines, under the name American Eagle. Both US carriers operate Embraer 145s, like ExpressJet, so they were quick to make job offers to newly unemployed ExpressJet pilots. The offers are “conditional” only in terms of seniority.
As we have seen, Piedmont and Envoy have recently made very substantial salary increases for new pilots, with CommutAir following suit later. The job offers that the two regionals make to ExpressJet pilots respect the terms of these offers. Matt Kernan, COO of Piedmont, said:
“No one wants to see an airline fail, ever. We know that ExpressJet pilots are well-trained aviators who know the Embraer 145, and we are very happy to make this transition as easy as possible for them. This is an opportunity to secure significant pay and bonus increases for these pilots, accelerated job offers and, in the process, help Piedmont grow its fleet.”
Regional carriers have recently struggled to meet their pilot needs. Major carriers have been “stealing” their experienced flight crew members at an increasing rate. This is why these American carriers made these job offers, jumping at the chance to access a pool of pilots, already qualified on their aircraft.
Any other changes inspired by the pilot shortage?
ExpressJet had a fleet of hundreds of planes. It nearly failed once in the fall of 2020, before resuming operations almost a year later. ExpressJet only had 5 Embraer ERJ145s before closing its doors last week. It is not known how many pilots will receive these conditional offers.
Meanwhile, another regional carrier has just announced a massive wage increase. Mesa Airlines, which operates flights as American Eagle and United Express, will now pay its entry-level co-pilots $100 an hour. Novice captains receive $150 per hour. These are increases amounting to 118% and 172% respectively, suddenly placing Mesa among the highest-earning regional carriers in the country.
These job openings and salary increases for pilots in the United States suggest that a rapid change in the way airlines find pilots is underway. During the pandemic, the suggestion was that a surplus of pilots took away some of their bargaining power. This is no longer the case. The full picture depends on other factors, like the 1,500 hour rule and other conditions. But the view of regional pilots as “second tier” or “cheap labor” seems set to change for good.
Spyros Georgilidakis graduated in business and management. He has 14 years of experience in the hospitality and travel industries, as well as a passion for all things aviation and travel logistics. He is also an experienced writer and editor for online publications and a licensed professional drone pilot.