According to Business Insider, airlines in the U.S. are experiencing a drastic pilot shortage that has resulted in the airlines cutting down the training hours of pilots, as well as dropping the experience requirements needed to fly airplanes.
In early 2022, Delta also joined several other airlines in the U.S. to announce that pilots would no longer be required to have a 4-year bachelor’s degree to fly an aircraft. Rather than a requirement, it has now become only a preferred criterion for many airlines.
Delta mentioned in an announcement on January 6 that they still insist on the importance of education. However, they also acknowledge the importance of the skills many of their candidates learned through the years of life and their leadership experiences.
America’s second-largest regional airline, Republic Airways, went even further by seeking a reduction in the number of training hours that pilots must complete in order to be able to fly. In April, they filed a petition with the Federal Aviation Administration, in which they asked that mandatory flight hours be reduced from 1500 hours to 750 only.
Presently, Republic Airways have exemptions for candidates with degrees that they only need to complete 1000 mandatory hours to fly.
Last week, CNBC reported that some airlines are taking measures like incorporating bus routes for shorter distances and hiring pilots from abroad to meet requirements. The country has been facing a significant pilot shortages.
Due to the severe shortage of pilots the country is facing, airlines were looking to employ around 12,000 pilots in 2022. The shortage has forced many airlines to cancel flights and ground their airplanes. Moreover, air travel is getting more expensive due to lack of availability.
Pilot training and recruitment had significantly decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many airlines handed out early retirement packages to their experienced employees to save money during the lockdown.
Some airline executives believe that this shortage of pilots could take years to solve even if airlines continue to change the hiring criteria to attract more applicants.
Bloomberg reported that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is looking to introduce legislation that would raise the retirement age of pilots from 65 to 67.
President of Atmosphere Research group, Henry Harteveldt believes that cutting down flying hours is much riskier than allowing healthy pilots, who are near the retiring age, to fly a few more years.