Airlines land in Anchorage in search of pilots
"We're looking for highly qualified pilots that like flying in the Northwest, like a technically complex airplane," April Eriksson, Horizon Air Seattle chief base pilot tells those interested.
Horizon Air is the regional carrier of Alaska Airlines. Other airlines also have the help wanted signs posted.
Pen Air shows off one of its planes at the Great Alaska Aviation Gathering. The Anchorage-based airline also needs people to fly its aircraft.
"We have pilots who have been with us for a long time who are leaving, we need pilots," says Pen Air Pilot Recruiter Terrie Stark.
The shortage is part of a growing problem. Industry analysts predict North American airlines alone, will need 117,000 new pilots over the next 20 years. Many pilots are reaching the mandatory retirement age of 65, as airlines are scrambling to find replacements.
Starting pay for captains of regional carriers and Pen Air is $69 an hour, $40 for the first officer. The training comes with a hefty price tag, but airlines like Horizon Air can help.
"You start in college and we actually give you scholarship money towards your training, with a guaranteed job at Horizon, and eventually Alaska," says Eriksson.
Airlines also offer bonuses, especially for military flying experience. Kris Hlebechuk has been a pilot with Pen Air for the last five years. He says the airline provides another nice incentive.
"Taking off at sunrise, you see the sun coming up, you're out over the Alaska Range at 30,000 feet, it's beautiful, you get the Alpenglow very, very pretty," says Hlebechuk.
There's another perk to consider. "They can come home every night, be home, they don't have to live out of a suitcase," says Stark, as the sky may be the limit when it comes to airlines trying to find new pilots.
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