United Airlines Initiates a Program Meant to Combat Pilot Shortages

Sophia Cacoilo, Reporter

Since last year, the United States Airlines have been facing severe pilot shortages leading to limits in air travel and available flights. To combat the expected shortage of twelve thousand pilots by 2023, United Airlines has initiated United Airlines Aviate Academy in Goodyear, Arizona.

Heading into 2022, many are wondering what to expect as they take to the skies and when air travel will return to normal. “We’ve got over 100 regional aircraft that effectively aren’t flying because there are not enough pilots to fly them,” said Scott Kirby with United Airlines.

There has always been a shortage of air pilots in the past decade, however the issue has increased in urgency as thousands of workers are either quitting or being fired for refusing to take the vaccine. This caused the already tanked employee population affected from COVID to decrease further. With the addition of an FAA regulation forcing pilots to retire at age 65 and a study estimating half of them retiring within 15 years it is no shocker that the United States is struggling with the lack of filled jobs.

As it stands, United Airlines Aviate Academy requires aspiring pilots to be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident and have a high school diploma or GED equivalent. The program lasts ten months with the airline offering scholarships and priority to relatives of staff. Along with this, United Airlines mentioned that they expect 50% of their pilots to come from this program, with half of those being women and people of color.

In the meantime, frequent travelers should expect higher costs and fewer options for people in small cities as major carriers cut back service.