United Airlines Adds Perks to Attract New Pilots

April 11, 2019

United Airlines Holdings Inc. is stepping up its efforts to recruit new pilots for new financial benefits and faster career development as the airline will retire nearly half of its pilots over the next decade.

The program, known as the “Aviation” program, aims to attract more employees to regional airlines flying to United, which will then seek to deploy a large portion of their future pilot fleet from these carriers.

“In the next 10 years, our demand will be close to or exceed 10,000 pilots. This really makes it difficult for us to see what we are doing.” Bryan Quigley, senior vice president of flight operations at United Airlines, is on Thursday. The reporter said on the conference call.

Quigley said that United is exploring a financing program to help new pilots pay high training costs, including loan guarantees and loan forgiveness. Aspiring pilots can spend more than $100,000 on school and accumulate at least 1,500 flight hours required for regional airlines to work. This financial barrier has thinned the pilot team and forced regional airlines to raise pay and sign bonuses.

More coaches and learning tools will help accelerate progress. Quigley said that at present, pilots have now moved from regional airlines to United, with an average flight time of 6,500 hours. United Airlines, based in Chicago, said in a statement that the plan will be reduced to two years and 2,000 hours through the Aviate program, which is “the fastest way in the industry.”

Former Navy pilot, who is also the chief pilot of United Airlines, said that the US Navy and Air Force, which used to be the source of about half of United’s pilots, now account for only 20%, because the military is struggling for the recruitment of its pilots.

Manchester United is the latest airline to try to strengthen recruitment. Southwest Airlines said last month that it will begin its first “start from scratch” training program in 2020 to help recruit and train pilots. A similar project by JetBlue Airways Corp. predicts that the first batch of graduates next year will operate as airlines as the first lieutenant.

Last year, Delta Air Lines Inc. launched a program with eight universities to help identify and guide future pilots.