Pilot Hiring Down, but May Go Up

 - January 15, 2008, 6:22 AM

Statistics compiled by Aviation Information Resources (AIR) of Atlanta show a decrease in pilots hired by fractional providers from a peak of 1,363 in 2000 to 1,038 in 2001 to 997 last year, a drop in hiring of 27 percent over the three-year period. But the fractionals didn’t fare as poorly as other airline segments tracked by AIR. For example, the major airlines hired 4,779 pilots in 2000, 3,318 in 2001 and only 549 last year.

As a percentage of the total airline market (which, as covered by AIR, has included fractionals since 2000), fractional pilots represented 7.2 percent of the total pilots hired (19,027) in 2000, 8.1 percent of the 2001 total (12,766) and 17.1 percent of the total last year (5,845). For this year, AIR estimates that airlines will hire some 7,075 pilots, of which 1,500 will be hired by fractionals, an amazing 21.2 percent.

However, this number may be on the high side. AIN has learned that NetJets, as of the beginning of this year, is planning to hire 500 pilots in 2003, after hiring 500 last year. If this forecast holds true, it’s hard to figure how the other three providers would be able to hire the other 1,000 pilots of the 1,500 estimated by AIR.