The airline industry is booming, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at job growth numbers these days. Both the airline and air shipping industries need a substantial number of new pilots, and that need is expected to grow over the next fifteen years both in the U.S. and abroad. It’s a double-edged sword though since airlines aren’t always profitable.
Digging Into Pilot Salaries May Spur Growth
It’s unfortunate, but the airline industry has been cutting back on pilot salaries for a while to keep airline ticket prices low. The cuts have been so severe that some experts say that the glory days of being a pilot are all but over. Those cuts may force some pilots to seek other jobs or retire. Because of this, the airline industry could face shortages.
While no one is attracted to a job with the lowest wages, those wages are unlikely to remain low during a pilot shortage. When pilots start leaving the industry, there’s a break-even point. Airlines need a certain number of pilots to run their airline. When that threshold is hit, expect salaries to climb. If a young pilot times it right, he could get in on the ground floor of a new hiring wave with a decent salary.
The Airline Industry Projects Growth
Boeing has forecast that it needs another 466,650 more commercial pilots by 2029 – a truly staggering number of pilots. Forty percent of those pilots are needed in the Asia-Pacific region. More than 97,000 will be needed in North America. It’s not a mystery to major airlines what will be required in the future.
Some airlines are expected to increase reliance on technology, rather than human beings, but there will always be a need for a human pilot to oversee flight operations. Many of the new pilot opportunities will be in Asia – especially China. While the economy isn’t growing as much as it was two years ago, China is still seeing a demand for increased travel.
Retirement May Spur Growth
Retirement is a reality in the airline industry. At age 65, pilots must retire by law. This fact alone serves as a warning to many airlines who have older pilots. In the 1980s and 1990s, being a pilot was pretty glamorous. That’s when airlines received the bulk of their now-veteran pilots. Today, those same pilots are approaching retirement. That former hiring boom is turning into a retirement boom – and a supply problem.
New pilots are needed, but not just any pilot will do. Airlines have quite a problem to solve. Older pilots have much more experience than new pilots. What’s needed is a gradual integration of new pilots, accompanied by seasoned veterans, to ease the industry into a new era.
The Air Shipping Industry
FedEx, UPS, and other air freight companies are doing more business by air these days. Even with the cost of fuel, consumer demand and increased online shopping is pushing the industry to put in more flight time. While fuel costs push companys’ profits down, the fact is that these same companies still need pilots to fly their aircraft and deliver goods.