If the last twenty years have taught us anything about the airline industry, it is that it is robust, elastic and cyclical in nature. The terrorists attacks of September 11, 2001; the economic meltdown of 2008 and last year’s global battle with COVID-19 all had a similar effect on the airlines. Flights were cancelled, pilots furloughed or laid off, and talk that the industry “will never be the same.” In each case, airlines came roaring back with increased demand, increased flights, and an increased need for pilots.
We find ourselves in the midst of climbing out of the depths of the COVID-19 crisis as felt by the airline and aviation industry. It was only a year ago that pilots all over the world faced uncertain futures as their career prospects seemed to disappear overnight. Now, with the economy beginning to recover, and the domestic fight against COVID-19 beginning to show signs of success even with the surging delta variant, airlines are once again trying to fill their ranks to meet the demands of paying passengers eager to fly and travel again. With a limited talent pool of qualified pilots to select from, hiring incentives have gotten more attractive and competitive at the regional and major airlines.
As airline pilot salaries creep upwards (a first year first officer at a regional airline will likely be paid double what they would have made ten years ago) more aspiring pilots have begun to seek out the requisite training required to have a career as a pilot. At the same time, those flight instructors that have amassed the minimum flight hours required to fly with a regional airline (1,500 hours) are being actively recruited by those airlines. They are treated to dinners, hiring bonuses, and promises of fast upgrades to captain.
The effect this has on flight training is significant. Talented, experienced instructors are ascending to regional airlines faster than their potential replacements are able to be trained, recruited and incorporated into flight training teams. This is being felt by Horizon though it is certainly not unique to our organization.
What may be unique is how we have responded. Even before COVID-19, we recognized that the airline hiring boom was coming. We announced that we wanted to treat flight instructing as the honored profession it should be. We rolled out a salaried CFI pay structure, going against the grain of the industry that has relied on an hourly wage design for decades. This immediately established Horizon as an attractive employer in a competitive job market. Resumes flooded in from every corner of the country.
With a wide net comes a wide range of applicants. As with any profession, some applicants were wonderful and we enthusiastically invited them to join our team after stellar performances in our interview process which includes a mock lesson with our Chief Instructor covering both ground and flight instruction. We have withheld invitations from other applications to preserve the integrity of our flight instruction.
In short, we are not willing to compromise the quality of instruction we are able to offer to you our students for the sake of filling an open position. In this case, quanity does make up for quality.
In the coming month, we will be conducting a significant amount of interviews with instructors that have shown great promise. As some of our instructors make their moves into the airline industry for the first time, we will be working aggressively to fill their vacancies while maintaining the quality of instructing that you expect and deserve as a Horizon Aviation pilot and customer. We thank you for your patience as we conduct our thorough interview and recruiting process.
To stay up to date with our latest developments you can follow us on Facebook and Instagram where we post daily updates on student achievements, upcoming events, articles and additions to our respective instructor teams.
You can also sign up for our text alert system. We send out a weekly text announcing any and all open flight blocks that we have on our schedule for the coming week. Your information is kept private and secure.
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