US regional Piedmont Airlines is offering an upfront bonus of $100,000 to experienced pilots in a bid to attract more captains.
The regional carrier of American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) said the offer is available for pilots who can accept a conditional job offer by the end of the year. Pilots who are already qualified to sit in the left-hand seat (the captain’s side) will receive $100,000 and pilots who are close to upgrading to captain will receive $75,000 if they commit to Piedmont for two years.
“We are in a unique position to say to pilots ‘come to Piedmont, help us expand our fleet and our routes, and here’s a big check to spend while you do it,” announced Eric Morgan, Piedmont’s CEO.
Why does Piedmont need pilots?
The big bonus from Piedmont comes at a time when airlines in North America are fighting to attract and keep their pilots. Many retired or left the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic and with training costs high, there are not enough new pilots coming through the flight schools and with the hours to replace those who have left the commercial carriers.
The regional carrier said that it has a gap in 2023 and 2024 between the number of airplanes it wants to fly and the captains needed to fly them.
“We’re looking for pilots who can bring their knowledge and experience to Piedmont, fly in the left seat and get us through that 24-month time period,” Morgan said, adding pilots will also be able to take advantage of the fact that Piedmont supplies crew to American Airlines (A1G) (AAL).
Piedmont’s bonus offer, announced on November 15, 2022, replaces its current pilot retention bonuses that expire at the end of the year. The new bonus is paid upfront, whereas previously multiple bonuses were paid over a five-year period.
What else does Piedmont offer?
Several American carriers are negotiating pay contracts with their pilots, and unions have rejected offers for being too low, a sign of how tight the labor market is.
Piedmont reached a deal with the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) in June to raise starting pay for all pilots, in a deal that also included new work rules, enhanced bid schedules and additional hotel rooms for commuting pilots.
Piedmont announced plans to add 15 Embraer 145s to the fleet in August 2022 as part of its expansion. The airline plans to grow at American’s Charlotte and Philadelphia hubs and noted it has also been asked to take on new routes out of Chicago starting in December.