While the travel demand increased as the COVID restrictions lessened, the companies scrambled to adjust. With vaccine and mask mandates causing contention between travel companies and their employees, tensions rise as schedules struggle with fallout. Alaska Airlines deals with pilot strikes and shortages; other airlines read the writing on the wall. Many are dropping many requirements to broaden the pool of possible candidates.
US Airlines Dropping Requirements to Address Pilot Shortages
As the pilot shortage continues to rock the airline industry, carriers struggle to fulfill their flight schedules. A few are even committing to the reduction of required training hours to get more pilots in the sky ASAP.
“The pilot shortage for the industry is real, and most airlines are simply not going to be able to realize their capacity plans. There simply aren’t enough pilots, at least not for the next five-plus years,” United CEO Scott Kirby said.
To combat the lack of pilots, carriers debate dropping long-standing requirements to get more pilots flying sooner. The requirements they list are nixing degree requirements and decreasing the mandatory number of flight hours needed to be hired. They are also looking to keep current pilots longer by increasing their retirement age.
Industry-wide Airline Goals to Drop Pilot Requirements
While Alaska Airlines is looking to go on a hiring spree, they are not alone in its goals. Many other US airlines are following suit, taking their own steps to address the shortage.
Delta announced earlier this year it would drop the four-year degree requirement. They look for qualified pilots with the “equivalent of a college education through years of life and leadership experience.”
Regional carrier Republic Airways, operating on behalf of Delta, American, and United, is trying to reduce its pilot training requirements. They recently requested permission from the FAA to hire their pilots out of training at 750 flight hours. Half of their current requirements.