Sky Talk

Envoy Air pilots union says new bonuses not enough to attract recruits

Envoy Air gave a tour of its new Embraer 175 plane at DFW Airport in December.
Envoy Air gave a tour of its new Embraer 175 plane at DFW Airport in December. Star-Telegram

It’s not just about the money for new pilots.

Envoy Air pilot union leader Sam Pool said the new $15,000 signing bonuses announced earlier this week are not enough to attract new pilots to the regional carrier owned by American Airlines.

“While we appreciate every additional dollar in our member’s pockets, changing the tiered recruitment bonus to a straight $15,000 is minor change and falls short of what is necessary for true success,” Pool said in a message to Envoy Air pilots.

Regional carriers have faced a severe pilot shortage as new federal rules increased the number of hours required for a pilot to fly a commercial jet and as mandatory pilot retirement ages have forced hundreds of mainline pilots to retire, creating job openings for regional pilots to move to carriers like American or Delta Air Lines.

“Today’s recruits are increasingly savvy and are shopping around for the airline that offers the best mix of compensation, schedules, and quality of life; in these areas Envoy continues to fall short,” said Pool, who is the chairman of the Envoy Air master executive council with the Air Line Pilots Association. “The compensation provided by Envoy – and indeed the entire regional industry in general – falls short of what is necessary to attract the next generation into the profession.”

Through its current pilot contract, Envoy Air offers pilots a guaranteed path to be eventually hired on at American Airlines. The regional carrier currently operates about 180 aircraft with 800 daily flights for the Fort Worth-based airline.

“We project that a pilot hired at Envoy today will upgrade to Envoy Captain in two and a half years,” said Envoy Air vice president of flight operations Ric Wilson when the announcement was made on Monday. “And with our flow-through program to the mainline, he or she can enter training at American Airlines in less than six years from hire.”

Envoy is one of three regional carriers owned by American Airlines Group. The company announced similar signing bonuses for pilots at its other subsidiaries, PSA Airlines and Piedmont Airlines, this week.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk