The aircraft will be used in the airline’s pilot program.
Mesa Airlines has bought 29 two-seat aircraft for its pilot development program as part of an effort to combat an ongoing pilot shortage, the regional airline said Thursday.
The aircraft will help implement the airline’s pilot development program, which aims to provide pilots with an accelerated opportunity to earn the 1,500 flight hours required by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly commercial aircraft. according to a press release from Mesa Airlines. In addition, next year the airline may purchase another 75 aircraft.
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The newly acquired aircraft will begin operations next month in Florida and later in Arizona, Mesa Airlines said. The fleet will have a capacity of up to 2,000 combine flight hours per day and more than 1,000 pilots per year once fully operational, he said.
“Pilot shortages could become a permanent feature of the aviation industry,” said Mesa Airlines CEO Jonathan Ornstein. “It’s simple math. If there are not enough trained pilots, customers suffer loss of service and high ticket prices.”
Since 2019, the number of airline pilots has decreased by 4%. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 14,000 pilots will need to be hired every year for ten years to meet the shortage.
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A shortage of pilots and other airline staff, inclement weather and other factors have led to flight chaos in recent months, prompting airlines to increase hiring and reduce flight schedules to combat delays and cancellations.
Mesa Airlines said its pilot development program is designed to help reduce the pilot shortage. According to the company, the program will provide qualified pilots with up to 40 flying hours per week and benefits such as priority status for employment with the airline.
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The airline will fund flight costs of $25 an hour for pilots while they work towards their certification, with pilots committing to reimbursing costs for three years at zero interest while working for the company, Mesa Airlines said in a statement.
“Our program will be the most cost-effective and one of the fastest paths to a long-term career as a professional pilot,” said John Hornibrook, Mesa Airlines’ senior vice president of flight operations. “We want to make it as easy as possible for a whole new group of candidates to join Mesa, including and especially people who may not have traditionally considered aviation.”
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