Airlines must eventually begin raising wages – even with the cost pressures they face – if they want to attract and retain employees, an aviation consultant said Monday.
Michael Boyd, president of the Boyd Group International, said airlines face the possibility that they won’t be able to attract employees, particularly pilots, without reversing the cost pressure to lower pay.
“We have an airline industry that is no longer going to be operating on low wages,” Boyd said at his company’s annual aviation conference in New Orleans. “We’re not going to have that anymore.”
He and others warned that regional carriers may be particularly pressured by costs as they deal with two safety-related pushes from the federal government: assuring more rest for pilots and requiring more hours of experience before pilots can fly commercial airlines.
Speaking of a proposal to set 1,500 hours as the minimum flight time for a new regional airline pilot, “that’s another $40 million in training: $40 million so you can get a $25,000 a year job and get based in Newark?” Boyd said.
“What we’re seeing is that compensation has to go up dramatically through all levels. You’ve got to attract people, so you’re going to have to pay them. And if they’re going to have to have that much training and expertise, you’re going to have to raise the rates you pay them,” he said.
Michael Baida, another aviation consultant who also flies as a United Airlines Inc. captain, said his job has assured a good life for him, particularly now that he’s a Boeing 747 pilot.
But Baida said he doesn’t know whether he would enter the profession today if he had to make the same decision he made decades ago.
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