Piedmont Pilots Get Hefty Raise


American Airlines regional carrier Piedmont Airlines has reached a pay deal with its pilots giving experienced captains as much or more as those working filling the same seats on some low-cost carriers. According to Forbes, a four-year captain’s pay rate goes to $157 an hour immediately and to $161 an hour in 2023, but that includes a 50 percent premium that is in effect until 2024. A one-year first officer will get $90 an hour with a base rate of $60 an hour plus the temporary bonus. It’s not clear if the bonuses can be extended but the contract for the new base amounts lasts until 2029.

Like all regionals, Piedmont has been bleeding pilots and this contract reflects the growing sentiment that there’s really only one thing that will stop it. “With the supportability premium, our pilot wages will be 50-70% higher (57% on average) than the next highest paid regional carrier, Endeavor,” a joint letter from the company and ALPA to the 700 pilots said. “Including all bonuses, a new hire pilot should expect to make 31% more than pilots at Endeavor and 10% more than pilots at leading ultra-low-cost carriers (ULCCs) over the first five years.” The deal was struck on Friday afternoon and immediately ratified by the union negotiators. ALPA has said it doesn’t believe a pilot shortage exists but that low pay at the regionals was making its pilots flee for greener pastures. 

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. Stand by…reminder Pilot are only paid for flight hours thus once the door closes and the plane is moving.

    Per a couple of searches a regional pilot can only work a max of 1,000 per year with a typical year being 700 hours of flight time.

    Sure this is a decent wage but it is far from the top.

    A top pilot earning $161 per hour only flying 700 hours gross pay is $112,700.

    This is a good job and I wish I had it but let’s not get carried away thinking these pilots are paid over the top.

    • I suspect the general public would be surprised to learn this fact. ~$115k after what, 3 years building 1500 hours and $100k in tuition, plus 6-8 years working your way up at the regionals with low pay and a really tough schedule? Maybe when I was 20 and without kids, not so much now. Respect to you all working the lines at the regionals, it’s a tough job. Happy to see that there’s at least some attention finally being paid to compensation.

  2. This is PR BS. They will cut the hours worked or change the benefits to make up for the loss in wages. There is no free lunch, unless you are on the Board or in Senior Management.

    • So funny. ALPA has been saying to pay regional pilots more. The market place has demanded it so they come to this agreement, and yet, here everyone is knocking it. I bet the 23 year old right seater making $75K a year first year under this deal likes it a whole lot better than the CPT to his left that made 25K 5 years ago.

  3. This is the same solution to the problem that has been at issue for decades. You have to pay reasonable wages to get and keep employees.

  4. The story of my flying career: When there’s a pilot shortage …I hold what appears to be a fantastic, permanent corporate job. When 3 to 5 years later that job folds…. the airlines are furloughing. When airlines are desperate for pilots…I’ve fallen for the corporate candy again.

    (there’s more than one fork-in-the-road where I took the wrong-one)… LOL

  5. When I interviewed with regionals in 2005 a new hire F/O made $25k to fly a regional jet. Before Covid, airline bonus structures had first year pay up to 50-60k – not Rockefeller money, but still a big jump from what it was. ALPA is *still* saying there’s no pilot shortage in spite of American parking 100 aircraft due to crew shortages, and United has opened a flight school in Phoenix to create a pipeline for pilots. Why is there such a disconnect?