United Airlines is so desperate to replace its rapidly depleting ranks of pilots, it has created an all-new recruitment and development program.
“Aviate” is designed to provide aspiring, as well as established, pilots the most direct route to a job offer in a United cockpit.
The second-largest U.S. carrier faces the impending loss of nearly half of its roughly 12,500 pilots over the next decade, largely due to a federally mandated retirement age of 65. To compensate, as well as to keep pace with continued growth, United anticipates the need to hire 10,000 new pilots over the next ten years, Laurie Baratti with Travel Pulse reported.
To boost recruiting efforts and streamline pilot development, Aviate was created to offer the fastest career path within any major commercial airline towards becoming a First Officer and, ultimately, Captain.
Its signature, structured pathways are designed to support pilots from college training through regional airline flying, and offer more options in entry points throughout a pilot’s career. the report said.
“With nearly half of our 12,500 pilots retiring in the next decade, combined with a period of strong growth at our airline, United is uniquely positioned to offer pilots the opportunity to get where they want to go in their careers faster than ever,” said Bryan Quigley, United’s senior vice president of flight operations and chief pilot.
“With the most comprehensive global route network in the industry and the most wide-bodies of any North American airline, United offers an unparalleled opportunity for an exceptional and exciting career, as we begin to welcome hundreds of new pilots every year.”
Quigley also told CNBC that United is considering implementing further recruitment initiatives, such as loan forgiveness or guarantees, to offset the cost burden of flight school and training, which can run upwards of $80,000, the report said.
Those who qualify through the selection process will receive a conditional offer from United, then be required to complete 24 months and 2,000 hours flying for either United Express (United’s regional division) or one of its regional partners, which currently include Air Wisconsin, ExpressJet, Mesa Airlines and CommutAir.
United is also partnering with leading universities that operate established aviation curricula and training centers, including Lufthansa Aviation Training, to guarantee that future pilots are afforded the best opportunities to enrol in its innovative, new program.