Business jets risk U.S. pilot shortage on competition from airlines
“It's really a buyers' market and the buyer is the pilot now”
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November 17, 2017. By Allison Lampert - Reuters
- When Bombardier starts delivering the Global 7000 in significant numbers, Gulfstream starts delivering their G500 and G600 in significant numbers, that's where our industry is going to have a very significant challenge finding qualified crew members
MONTREAL (Reuters) - Business jet operators, already offering double digit raises to attract pilots, could face a labor shortfall in North America as they compete with U.S. airlines for talent, executives and analysts said.
Competition is intensifying from airlines, which generally offer higher salaries and better benefits and are taking delivery of new aircraft at a fast pace, U.S.-based aviation consultant Rolland Vincent said. Boeing Co (BA.N) and Airbus SE (AIR.PA) left the Dubai Air Show this week with around 700 provisional orders for narrowbody commercial jets, potentially adding to already hefty backlogs.
It is expected that the world's rapidly growing commercial aviation industry will need an additional 255,000 pilots by 2027, according to training specialist CAE Inc (CAE.TO).
U.S. legacy carriers are recruiting employees to fly new aircraft and replace retiring staff, with American Airlines (AAL.O) expected to hire 900 mainline pilots in 2018, up from just over 500 in 2017, said Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the Allied Pilots' Association (APA), which represents American Airlines pilots.
"It's really a buyers' market and the buyer is the pilot now," Tajer said in a telephone interview on Friday. "If you don't pay pilots the market rate you're going to lose them."
By contrast, in Europe corporate jet operators did not lose many pilots this year to commercial aviation because carriers had an adequate supply of pilots after Air Berlin (AB1.DE) and Britain's Monarch Airlines ceased operations, said Adam Twidell, chief executive of PrivateFly, a global private jet charter broker.
According to the 2017 pilot salary survey from the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), a captain flying a midsized corporate plane like the Bombardier (BBDb.TO) Challenger 350 made about $130,000 on average. In 2017, an American Airlines captain flying the B737 or A320 narrowbody earned just over $268,000, according to an APA compensation document.