Demand for Pilots Soaring, Airlines Hiring Record Numbers

Airlines continue to add new routes and additional flights, requiring more pilots

If you've ever had dreams of flying, now may be the time to make them reality. The demand for pilots is sky high, and industry experts say that's not likely to change anytime soon.

According to Future and Active Pilot Advisors, which tracks hiring by the major airlines, nearly 4,400 pilots were hired from January through October of this year. In 2015, a little more than 3,400 were hired for the entire year.

Experts point to two major factors for the spike in hiring.

First, the airlines continue to add new routes and additional flights, which require more pilots.

Second, a growing number of current pilots are nearing the end of their careers. The Federal Aviation Administration mandates that pilots must retire at age 65 — and as those pilots leave, airlines have to replace them.

A spokesman for Dallas-based Southwest Airlines said that 2017 has been a record year for them in terms of hiring. Year-to-date, they've brought on 880 pilots. That's significantly up from 2015 when the only hired 334.

Fort Worth-based American Airlines has also been busy hiring pilots. A company spokesperson said they've hired approximately 500 pilots this year and plan to hire 900 more in 2018.

Experts say the need for pilots is leading to lucrative salaries and benefits packages.

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