The impact of COVID-19 on the airlines has been significant. After record profits in the industry in 2019, 2020 has been a year of challenges due to travel restrictions as well as fear of traveling by planes caused by the coronavirus. Many airlines saw their daily operations fall well below 20% of their normal, planned schedules. This could lead to thousands of furloughs and layoffs, and it has sparked a lot of uncertainty and doubt for those considering aviation as a career. Despite the hardships, now is still a great time to start or continue your flight training, and here are five reasons why:
It’s no secret that those with the most longevity with the airline receive the benefit of bidding their schedule first. What some people don’t consider when airlines aren’t hiring is less candidates in the pipeline can lead to faster upgrade times. Your hire date always matters, and the month you are hired can be the difference between when you transition from a first officer to a captain and when/if you choose to join a major carrier. Time off and selecting the schedule you want is all impacted on your hire date as well.
Many people choose aviation as a lifelong career and expect to fly for the airlines until they reach the mandatory retirement age of 65. Starting your flight training soon allows you to be ready to fly when hiring resumes, allowing you to earn more money during your career. If you delay, you risk entering a competitive job market with less mobility to upgrade, costing you thousands during your career.
Kit Darby, an aviation consultant and pilot, has a wealth of information regarding hiring forecasts for the next several decades. Despite the current airline environment, he is still predicting near-term hiring opportunities based on mandatory retirements. And he isn’t alone. Charles Wright, another pilot and contributor to AOPA, believes that the airline industry “will turn around because it has to”.
Hiring at major carriers provide opportunities at regionals to hire new pilots. Even if the airlines take a few years to recover from COVID-19, there will be job opportunities coming this decade as pilots hang up their wings.
Darby, Kit. “Airline Pilot Job Market Recovery-2020 and Beyond”. https://www.eaatogether.org/live/forums/6175250293001
Pre-COVID-19 pandemic, the airline industry was facing a talent shortage. It was estimated between 550,000-637,000 pilots would be needed by 2036, according to research at Boeing. The shortage has been caused by the cost of training, low pay during the 90’s and 2000’s, and a lack of interest in pursuing the career from 2002-2012. Travel restrictions caused by COVID-19 will eventually end, and the airlines will recover. From start to finish, it takes zero-time pilots 2.5 – 3 years to be ready for hire at the airlines, so taking advantage of your time now is important to get ahead of the looming talent gap.
If you have been on a discovery flight or have been able to fly in a training aircraft like a Diamond DA40NG, you may have been bitten by the flight bug. The thrill of being in the air and looking down at creation is awe-inspiring and every view is Instagram worthy. Not many people get paid to do what many consider a hobby. You’ll never work 9-5, never be stuck in an office space, and never regret your decision. If you want a career for the modern-day explorer, consider starting your flight training at LIFT Academy. Apply now at www.flywithlift.com!