The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) is pushing back on claims that U.S. airlines are experiencing a pilot shortage, citing FAA data showing 8,823 ATP-MEL pilots were newly certified in the last 12 months.
Calling pilot shortage claims “erroneous,” ALPA further contended that it has found that the seven largest passenger carriers in its membership have more pilots and conduct less flying than before the pandemic, “offering further evidence that pilot availability is strong and the debate about supply is really an attempt by some airlines to divert attention away from their operational mismanagement.”
Those carriers are operating 8.8 percent fewer block hours than they did before the pandemic but have 6.5 percent more pilots, ALPA said. “The data demonstrates that the United States is producing a record number of pilots,” added ALPA president Joe DePete.
DePete believes the pilot shortage discussion is instead an attempt by carriers to cover up bad business decisions. “Rather than focusing on trying to avoid proven aviation safety regulations, these airlines should instead follow ALPA’s lead and promote one level of safety across the industry.”
Pilot and workforce shortages overall have been a continual concern for the industry. Business aviation and Part 135 leaders, in particular, have expressed concerns about the potential for the larger airlines to pull from their staffs providing a cascading effect on qualified available pilots.