American Airlines’ subsidiaries Piedmont and Envoy have signed new pilot deals that will make them the highest-paid regional airlines.
The agreements between these airlines and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) come amid a pilot shortage that has prompted major airlines, including American, to severely restrict flying within their regional networks. American CEO Robert Isom said last week that the airline has nearly 100 ground-based regional jets.
American uses its subsidiaries Piedmont, Envoy and PSA and contractual partners SkyWest and Republic Airways to operate its American Eagle regional routes.
In an attempt to shore up hiring and retention, Piedmont has now agreed to pay first-year captains at $146 an hour, nearly double the previous rate of $78. First year co-pilot pay increases from $51 per hour to $90 per hour.
Piedmont said those wages will be 50% to 70% higher than wages paid by what was previously the highest-paid US regional airline, Delta subsidiary Endeavor.
“Including all bonuses, a newly hired pilot should expect to earn 31% more than pilots at Endeavor and 10% more than pilots at leading ultra-low-cost carriers in the first five years,” said Piedmont.
Piedmont has also sweetened its union contract for experienced captains, who can now earn more than $150 an hour immediately, said Steve Keefer, the airline’s vice president of flight operations.
“We want to grow this airline and for that we need pilots,” said Eric Morgan, CEO of Piedmont. “This deal will attract new first officers and the experienced captains we need for future opportunities, while taking really good care of the pilots already flying for Piedmont.”
The airline aims to hire more than 400 pilots this year.
The increases come two years before the contract between ALPA’s Piedmont pilots and the airline was due to change in 2024. The deal also includes a contract extension until 2029.
In a press release, Piedmont did not address whether the full extent of the wage increase will persist beyond 2024. However, if the arrangement is similar to the arrangement announced by Envoy on Saturday, the entry fee would be recalled at that point.
Envoy said that as part of a contract extension through July 2029, a first officer’s salary will be 10% higher than any regional airline not owned by American Airlines, while a captain’s salary will be 10% higher.
In addition, through August 31, 2024, Envoy pilots will receive a 50% bonus on top of their hourly wages, referred to in the contract as the “Pilot Supply Bonus”.