HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Some new aviation jobs are coming to the Midstate.
Piedmont Airlines confirms it’s opening a new crew base at Harrisburg International Airport. A total of 60 pilots and flight attendants will be based at HIA beginning May 1.
Piedmont is a subsidiary of American and flies 50 seat jets. A new crew base means more local jobs, but not necessarily more flights.
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In fact, airlines like Piedmont have had to cut flights lately, which can mean higher fares.
That’s because of a pilot shortage at what are called “regional airlines.” Those are airlines contracted by the big airlines to fly smaller planes.
According to an abc27 analysis of Cirum schedule data, fully three out of every four American, Delta, and United flights out of HIA are actually flown by regional airlines.
“In the regional sector now, they’re offering very large bonuses, signing bonuses, retention bonuses, pay raises, and trying to capture that workforce to stay with them. But they’re still being depleted,” Louis Smith, president of the FAPA pilot advisory firm said.
This is because major airlines pay even more, and lure pilots away from the regionals.
Smith also talked about how airlines have had to cope with the fact that the military no longer produces nearly enough pilots to become civilian pilots.
In the post-Vietnam era, nearly 80% of airline pilots came from the military. Now, the figure is about 20%. So, they were subsidized for a long time by military training schools. Now airlines and/or pilots have to pay the full cost of training.
“The industry has quite a bit of indigestion trying to determine how to develop these civilian pipeline pilot production pipelines. And they have some issues trying to make it work properly because they were spoiled for 50 years,” Smith added.