United Airlines is ramping up pilot recruitment as it looks to hire more than 10,000 pilots over the next decade.
The US carrier expects almost half of its 12,500 pilots to retire in the next 10 years in a period where it is also expecting strong growth.
Airline pilots in the US must retire when they reach age 65 and their replacements face stiff training costs of up to $US80,000.
United says a new pilot program called Aviate will offer aspiring and established pilots more opportunities and the fastest path to qualifying as a first officer of any major airline program in the industry.
Those who apply for the program and are successful will receive a conditional job offer with United.
Aviate will provide coaching and development with access to United pilots and learning tools as well as the company as a whole.
They will be required to work with an Aviate regional partner for a minimum of 24 months and 2000 hours.
The airline says it is s partnering with several of its regional United Express carriers, leading universities with established aviation programs, and training centers – including Lufthansa Aviation Training – to ensure pilots have the best opportunities to enroll in the innovative program.
The Aviate United Express partners are currently Air Wisconsin, ExpressJet, Mesa Airlines and CommutAir.
“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 United senior vice president of flight operations and chief pilot Bryan Quigley.
“With the most comprehensive global route network in the industry, and the most widebodies of any North American airline, United offers unparalleled opportunity for an exceptional and exciting career as we begin to welcome hundreds of new pilots every year.”
Despite talk of autonomous aircraft, global demand for pilots is expected to remain strong.
US manufacturer Boeing estimates airlines will need 645,000 commercial pilots globally over the next decade.
Another 98,000 will be needed around the world to fly business aircraft and 61,000 to operate helicopters.
Pilot demand will be largest in the Asia-Pacific region at 266,000 followed by North America at 212,000.