Starting pay for pilots at some small regional airlines is as little as $15,000 a year, according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report. That’s $80 less per year than a full-time, minimum-wage fast-food worker makes.
Frightening as that stat is, it’s merely the exclamation point at the end of a larger story: Low starting pay is making it difficult for airlines to attract qualified pilots. Republic Airways, one of the nation’s largest regional carriers, announced in February that it was grounding 27 of its 243 planes because it can’t recruit enough candidates to field flight crews.
According to the Air Line Pilots Association, the average starting salary for regional carrier pilots is $22,500 per year, or $10.75 per hour.
Experienced pilots at major airlines make more than $100,000 per year.