Thus we are treated to the rather amusing specter of regional airlines that only recently competed with one another to slash costs — many being quite vile to their employees in the process — now competing with one another to throw the most money at prospective pilots! Take Endeavor Air, for example. Weakened by a botched merger, it was bought out of bankruptcy by its major-airline partner, Delta Air Lines. After forcing Endeavor’s already low-paid employees to take additional pay cuts, Delta’s then-CEO openly bragged about achieving a cost reset in the regional airline industry. Five years later, Endeavor is hemorrhaging pilots, who are fleeing for greener pastures, and has found it necessary to offer a $10,000 hiring bonus and $20,000 annual retention bonuses to attract and keep replacements. Envoy and PSA, both of which cut pilot pay only three years ago, are offering even heftier signing bonuses ($22,100 and $21,560, respectively). Others with higher attrition or planned growth have yet deeper pockets: Mesa and Trans States Airlines are each offering new hires a cool $30,000, while Air Wisconsin is the current hiring-bonus champion with up to $49,000 in first-year inducements. This is all on top of first-year base pay that has risen to an average of $35,000. Five years ago, many first-year airline pilots qualified for food stamps. Now it’s possible to do rather well for oneself from the get-go.