The president of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) has responded directly to a claim by the Regional Airline Association (RAA) that a severe pilot shortage is brewing, saying there is no lack of qualified pilots in America — but there is a "pay shortage" at regionals that could lead to a pilot shortage in the future.
In a letter to Flying, ALPA President Tim Canoll offered his retort to a story in last week's Enews in which RAA was quoted as suggesting a shortage of regional airline pilots was being instigated by new FAA rules requiring that first officers hold an Airline Transport Pilot certificate with as many as 1,500 hours of flight time versus 250 hours under the old rules.
"There's no shortage of qualified airline pilots in North America, but some regional airlines are calling for arbitrary rollback of a well-thought-out safety rule to distract from the reality that they don't offer the pay or benefits necessary to attract qualified candidates to their companies," Canoll wrote.
However, he cautioned, regional airline pay policies could trigger a pilot shortage as would-be first officers decide the money and time required to reach the right seat aren't worth the meager starting wages, which hover around $20,000 a year.
"While none exists now, avoiding a future pilot shortage depends on whether we resolve the pilot pay shortage," Canoll wrote. "U.S. airlines must offer pilots competitive wages and benefits that reflect the education, training and experience the profession demands."