Two American Airlines-owned regional airlines — Piedmont Airlines and Envoy Air — are giving their pilots 50% pay raises through August 2024 amid struggles to retain pilots.
The airlines will also offer permanent pay increases on top of the temporary boosts, bringing the pay for newly hired first officers in their first year of flying to $90 an hour, a jump from the previous rate of $51 an hour. First-year captains’ hourly wages will be $146 an hour, up from $78 an hour.
Airlines have been on pilot hiring sprees since last year as travel demand began to rebound from COVID-19 pandemic lows. Carriers are looking to recover from their lost ranks after airlines encouraged pilots in 2020 to take early retirement because of the dip in demand during the beginning of the pandemic.
Now, airlines are left with a shortage, which has stiffened the competition for attracting pilots.
The increase in pay for the two airlines’ pilots follows each carrier reaching an agreement with their pilot unions.
Piedmont has been losing about 25 pilots a month to American Airlines’ mainline and has failed to reach its goal of hiring about 40 pilots each month. The airline usually flies between smaller cities but has not been able to use 10 of its roughly 60 planes, according to CNBC.
Envoy, meanwhile, has about 2,000 pilots but has lost about 80 pilots a year to other airlines while only hiring about 60.
This comes as some of the largest pilot unions, which represent more than 35,000 pilots at American, Southwest, Delta and JetBlue, are negotiating with their employers.
American, which has about 14,000 pilots, recently offered a 4% pay raise at the time of signing that would be followed by a 3% increase in the next year.