Current Airline Pilot Hiring Outlook - ERJ 175 Instrument Panel

Current Airline Pilot Hiring OutlookCareer Pilot Demand Forecast for 2024

Is the pilot shortage over?

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2024 is the time to become an airline pilot. Pilots training today face a bright career outlook with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting 16,800 openings each year, and several key factors driving long-term demand for qualified pilots.

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Ongoing Pilot Shortage

In its 2023-2043 Aerospace Forecast, the FAA cites the airline pilot shortage as an ongoing issue and one that is likely to persist. Boeing Pilot Technician Outlook projects that 127,000 pilots are needed in North America through 2042.

The major contributing factors fueling the global pilot shortage include:

  • Airline pilot retirements versus pilots training to replace them.
  • Increasing demand for air travel with record numbers of passengers.

Consulting firm Oliver Wyman noted that demand for pilots sparked an increase in pay and quality of life, with some salaries increasing as much as 86%. They estimate the pilot shortage to continue well into the decade with a shortfall of 17,000 pilots in 2032. The largest gap between supply and demand is estimated to occur in 2026, with a shortfall of 24,000 pilots.

Airlines are Offering Huge Pay Raises to Pilots: To alleviate a spike in demand post-pandemic coupled with a major labor shortage, airlines are now offering dramatic pay increases to pilots in order to retain and attract new talent.

Commercial Pilot Salary Information »

Retirements Driving Demand for New Pilots

Airline pilots are required to retire at age 65, and an aging workforce approaching this mandatory retirement is creating a shortage of airline pilots. According to estimates compiled by the National Air Carrier Association, there will be 16,000-plus retirements over next five years.

Yearly Retirements at Major Airlines

80,000 Airline Pilots Are Retiring

Over the next 20 years, 80,000 airline pilots are retiring and airlines report hiring needs to keep pace with growth over that same period.

American Airlines Hiring Projections

American Airlines plans to hire 10,000 pilots in the next 5 years. With the average age of a widebody captain being 62 years old, American estimates new hires can expect to become a widebody captain in as little as 10 years.

Delta Air Lines Hiring Projections

Delta Air Lines will hire 1,100 pilots in 2024 to support growth and retirements, and anticipates this pace to continue through the remainder of the decade. Additionally, Delta's profit sharing in 2023 was more than all competitors combined.

United Airlines Hiring Projections:

United plans to accept 800 new aircraft deliveries by 2032 and hire 10,000 pilots during the same period.

Major airline hiring projections from 2024 NGPA Industry Expo presentations.

Market Recovery and Growth

Boeing Pilot Technician Outlook states that, “Air travel demand is outpacing economic growth as domestic markets have fully recovered from the pandemic years, while international traffic is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels by [this year].”

Furthermore, “to support the recovery and growth driven by expansion of global fleets, the aviation industry will need a long-term strategy that addresses upcoming labor challenges. Investment in early career development programs and outreach efforts that spark excitement among future aviators will be essential to a healthy aviation market for years to come.”

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Industry Growth Market Recovery and Growth

Economic growth has contributed to increasing passenger demand that has exceeded long-term averages. Boeing, Airbus, and Embraer, all leading aircraft manufacturers, project an increase (even doubling) of commercial jet fleets to account for air travel demand by consumers.

Boeing Logo 2023–2042 Outlook
  • New Commercial Pilots Worldwide Fleet 649,000
  • Aircraft Deliveries North America Fleet 9,250
  • 2042 Total Fleet North America Fleet 10,710
  • Traffic Growth North America Fleet 3.8%

Boeing Forecasts

Trusted by more than 100 aviation regulatory agencies worldwide, Boeings's forecasts indicate significant trends and demands in the aviation industry:

  • Boeing Pilot Technician Outlook concludes that the aviation industry will need to supply more than 649,000 commercial airline pilots worldwide over the next 20 years.
  • According to the Boeing Commercial Market Outlook, there will be a demand for over 42,000 new airplanes worldwide over the next two decades. The majority of this demand will be for single-aisle airplanes, with low-cost carriers expected to represent more than 40% of the fleet by 2042.
  • Air travel is projected to outpace global economic activity, with an estimated growth rate of 3.7% over the next 20 years. This growth suggests that air traffic will more than double from pre-pandemic levels.
  • Airlines are expected to invest nearly $200 billion in training and professional services over the next 20 years to address retiring personnel and support industry expansion.
Airbus Logo 2023–2042 Outlook
  • New Aircraft North America Fleet 6,970
  • Aircraft Deliveries Worldwide Fleet 40,850
  • 2042 Total Fleet Worldwide Fleet 46,560
  • Traffic Growth Worldwide Fleet 3.6%

Airbus Forecast

Airbus is an international manufacturer of passenger aircraft ranging in size from 100-seat jetliners to the 850 passenger double-deck A380.

  • Airbus's Global Market Forecast that airline traffic is forecast to double in size in the next 20 years.
  • A demand for 40,850 new passenger and freighter aircraft deliveries over the next 20 years, of which 32,630 will be typically single-aisle and 8,220 typically widebody.
  • Demand for passenger traffic will grow annually by 3.6% over the next 20 years.
  • Demand for freighters is expected to reach 2,510 aircraft over the next 20 years, with about 920 of these being newly built.
Embraer Logo 2023–2042 Outlook
  • New Aircraft Worldwide Fleet 11,000
  • Aircraft Deliveries North America Fleet 3,100
  • 2042 Total Fleet North America Fleet 3,395
  • Traffic Growth North America Fleet 2.2%

Embraer Forecast

Embraer is one of the world's leading aircraft manufacturers. It has produced more than 5,000 aircraft and is the market leader for commercial jets with up to 150 seats.

  • Embraer's Market Outlook foresees worldwide demand for 11,000 new aircraft with up to 150 seats, over the next 20 years. In North America for air transport, Embraer estimates an average increase of 2.2% annually through 2042.
  • Embraer cites the ongoing pilot shortage as a challenge for the industry, stating “that key takeaways are pilot shortages skewing fleet deployment as regional aircraft are the backbone of the continent's network but are impacted by the pilot shortage.”

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Airline Pilot Hiring in 2024

  • American Airlines Logo
  • Delta Air Lines Logo
  • United Airlines Logo
  • Frontier Logo
  • Sun Country Airlines Logo
  • FedEx Logo
  • UPS Logo
  • Spirit Airlines Logo
  • CommuteAir Logo
  • Envoy Logo
  • Republic Airways Logo
  • SkyWest Airlines Logo
  • PSA Airlines Logo
  • Air Wisconsin Logo
  • Endeavor Air Logo
  • GoJet Logo
  • Horizon Air Logo

Regional and major airlines are hiring and facing a shortage of qualified pilots. Many regionals are offering tuition reimbursement competitive bonus packages, while major airlines like Spirit, Frontier, and Sun Country have formed partnerships with ATP allowing graduates to go straight from ATP at 1,500 hours straight to an Airbus or Boeing flight deck.

In the last 12 months, airlines hired ATP graduates, which is expected to continue throughout 2024. For aspiring pilots, this means they will see accelerated career progression and, at ATP, the opportunity to take advantage of the best airline financial assistance offers.

Seniority is EverythingGet There First With ATP

Airlines operate on a seniority-based system, where the pilot employed the longest is the highest on the seniority list, enjoying the best schedules, higher pay, and better quality of life. Getting to the airlines as quickly as possible to start building seniority ahead of unprecedented hiring is essential. Students training and earning their certification today will be competitively positioned to capitalize on the pilot shortage and establish their careers.

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