A Powerful Pilot Shortage – Pilot Outlook 2023 – Promising Year?

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Pilot Shortage 2023 - Everything You Need To Know

With the incredible pilot shortage that is taking North America and some of the rest of the world by storm, now could be an amazing time to start learning to become a pilot.

With more airlines starting to open fully sponsored pilot schemes, huge pay raises, and airlines competing for pilots, 2023 could be an amazing year for airline pilots.

Just a reminder that if you are interested in flight training, I have written a very thorough and extensive guide that will provide you with all the information you could ever need, all in one place.

If this post excites you, then just wait until you read our dedicated blog post all about airline pilot salaries! 

Or read about the recent pay proposal offered to American Airlines pilots, which will see some earning a basic salary of $590,000! 

Is There A Pilot Shortage?

Yes, there is a considerable pilot shortage in North America. 

Major airlines in the US, such as American Airlines, Delta and Southwest, cannot source pilots with enough experience.

Is The Pilot Shortage Leading To Pay Rises?

Yes. Delta Airlines pilot’s salary will see a 34% increase over the next three years as airlines compete to attract as many qualified pilots as possible.

And American Airlines were just offered a 40% pay rise, seeing a top earner making $590,000 a year. 

This huge pay rise is outpacing inflation and pay increases worldwide. And could be the benchmark of other airline pilot unions when negotiating new pay deals and terms and conditions for their pilot’s pay.

Indeed, Delta pilots are seeing historically high pay increases. 

With many airlines in the UK seeing a 2-5% pay rise, which barely keeps pace with inflation, this 34% seems astronomical.

So why on earth are these airline pilots seeing such groundbreaking pay rises?

We must further investigate just why America is facing such a pilot shortage.

Why Is There A Pilot Shortage?

The pilot shortage is far worse in America due to the “1,500 Hour Rule”, which increased the minimum flight time required to become a commercial airline pilot from 250 to 1,500 hours.

Whereas aviators in the UK/Europe still only require these 250 hours of flight experience (as well as the instrument rating, single-engine and multi-engine ratings etc.).

With the growth of air traffic, the demand for pilots has increased, yet the number of newly qualified cadets entering the profession has not kept pace.

Factors such as stricter regulations, more extended training requirements, and an ageing workforce population contribute to the shortage.

We must also remember that in the UK, the retirement age for professional flyers has recently increased from 55 to 65 years old.

This means we may now see a record number of captains and first officers retiring over the next 2-5 years, creating an even more significant shortage, especially in the UK and Europe.

Faster Recovery From The Pandemic


Air travel demand in the US recovered from COVID-19 much faster than in the rest of the world.

Indeed, American air travel is now just short of the pre-pandemic levels, with the rest of the world 10-20%+ behind.

In the UK and Europe, pilots can be accepted to major airlines and fly jet aircraft such as the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 straight out of flight school, with a minimum of 250-hour PIC (pilot in command) and specific other requirements.

Indeed I joined my first airline, EasyJet, flying the Airbus A320 with roughly 250 hours of documented flight time.

This means there is less of a shortage, at the moment.

How Can This Pilot Shortage Be Stopped?

There are whispers of how America might need to open their Green Card procedures to attract European and UK pilots to fill their vacancies.

However, this will only fill the gap for so long.

Indeed it appears that pilot demand far outweighs pilot supply for the first time in a few years, which is fantastic news for the aviation industry for two main reasons.

  • Reason one is that this should mean we start seeing more sponsored pilot training programs, where the airlines will pay cadets to complete their training before offering them employment. These cadets will then be ‘bonded’ to the airline fo several years to guarantee the airline’s investment is returned.

  • Reason two is that it should help drive terms and conditions and pay up for the entire aviation industry worldwide. Especially if America does start recruiting pilots from the UK and Europe.

Find out how you can become a commercial pilot.

So Are Airlines Recruiting?


For the first time since COVID, many airlines are beginning their recruitment process.

 Indeed, my airline plans on recruiting the maximum number of recruits they can train this year.

Many will move from airline to airline this year for various reasons, such as better pilot salary/pay, better terms and conditions, or a better pilot’s lifestyle.

Are Any Airlines Paying For Flight Training?


I’m delighted to see a large international airline open up its sponsored training scheme.

TUI has opened up its pilot cadet program, which means cadets over 18 years old will now have the opportunity to embark on their MPL program!

I’m hopeful that as this shortage spreads worldwide, many airlines will be forced to open up their pilot cadet training scheme to train enough cadets to keep up with demand!

*Update as of 4/5/2023 – This scheme has now closed, but I will be updating about future schemes!*

The Delta Airline Pilot Salary Is Already Extremely Lucrative

We discussed airline pilot salaries in a previous blog post and how much pilots in the USA can earn.

Indeed, a senior captain and Delta can see their salary topping at a whopping $250,000 basic salary.

Delta pilots will earn a fortune when we factor in this 34% pay rise over the next three years.

Pilots in Delta could see their salaries increasing by up to $85,000 a year! This is more than the salary of experienced first officers in the UK and Europe.

Of course, not all pilots will see such impressive pay raises. However, having your gross salary increase by over a third is a problem anyone would love to have!

It will be interesting to see what happens to other airline pilot pay contracts following this news of such a huge pay increase.

Pilot Shortage - Other Things To Consider In 2023

The days of COVID lockdowns, mass redundancies and empty airports now seem like a distant memory.

No one knows what the future may hold, but the airline industry continues to recover every day we move away from the pandemic.

We must remember at the moment that the world faces a potential global recession, and things do change.

However, the forecast for the airline industry’s recovery continues to look promising, and growth in the aviation industry and predicted airline profits are all set to increase with time.

If you’re looking to get into aviation in 2023 and begin your journey to becoming an airline pilot, I hope this website will provide you with all the information you need.

Let me know what you think of this blog post by leaving a comment!

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