Saturday’s events come as the airline industry faces a looming pilot shortage. Twelve major U.S. airlines collectively hired nearly 1,000 pilots in December alone, according to Future & Active Pilot Advisors. Roughly 10,000 are expected to be hired this year.
Regional carriers, where many pilots start their airline careers, are already facing challenges. SkyWest, which flies for Delta Connection and other major airline regional operations, cut back flights earlier this year because it lacks the sufficient number of pilots to operate a full schedule.
Delta president Glen Hauenstein said the airline decreased regional flights 20-25% in the first part of the year.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is now requiring SkyWest to continue serving small towns that are part of the federal Essential Air Service subsidy program until the DOT can find a replacement carrier.
Atlanta-based Delta is also under pressure to hire more pilots to staff a busier summer flight schedule. The pilots union at Delta picketed earlier this month, saying staffing issues are causing pilots to work more overtime and fatiguing schedules.
The challenge of recruiting enough pilots is expected to become more severe in future years, as traditional pipelines of pilots have withered. The military is training fewer pilots than it did previously, and the cost of flight school is prohibitive for many.
Delta and other airlines have launched efforts to encourage more young people to become pilots and to encourage adults to consider switching careers to become pilots.
Delta, through its Propel program, partners with more than a dozen colleges, including Middle Georgia State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, to recruit good candidates who are pursuing careers as pilots.
The airline also has a program to lay out a path for its existing employees in other departments to pursue a job as a pilot at Delta.
Those interested in Saturday’s events should register online at fapa.aero/jobs for the job fair and fapa.aero/future for the career forum.