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Pilots' Union Shines a Light on Low Wages

A Great Lakes Airlines passenger plane in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
A Great Lakes Airlines passenger plane in Cape Girardeau, Mo.Photograph by Jeff Roberson/AP Photo

The issue of airline pilot supply and demand is back in the news as the largest U.S. pilots’ union released a new chart to call attention to paltry salaries (PDF) they say are causing a shortage of aviators for regional airlines.

“The rock-bottom starting pay offered by regional airlines has become a serious deterrent for anyone considering becoming an airline pilot or—if they are already qualified—for choosing to work in the profession in the United States,” says Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association. The industry has also been beset by a drop in the number of people who choose flying as a career, given the large training expenses and modest salaries during the first few years of a pilot’s career.
Here’s the ALPA list of estimated first-year salaries for a first officer at 10 U.S. regional carriers: