SUN 'n FUN Hosts Job Fair

  • Apr 2, 2014 9:51pm GMT

SUN 'n FUN hosted an aviation job fair at the Florida Air Museum today. The job fair wasn't just aimed at pilots, recruiters were looking for all sorts of aviation related positions. Among the companies represented were a few regional airlines including Republic, Mesa, Silver Airways and American Eagle/Envoy. All but Silver plan on hiring 400 pilots this year.

Every regional airline in the US is currently hiring. So I asked the recruiters at the fair today how they were attracting pilots to their respective companies. Of the four at the fair, Mesa was the only company not offering a signing bonus to new hire pilots. They believe they can attract pilots with the lure of new airplanes and a short wait until they can upgrade to a captain position. The recruiter also claims that they are having the least amount of trouble attracting applicants, which is odd because their first officers are the second least paid in the industry.

Silver Airways, a company that only operates turboprop Saab 340 aircraft, offers higher pay to new pilots than Mesa. They are also looking to staff the current 28 planes on property with pilot classes of 20 new hires each month, leading to a fast upgrade to captain.

Out of the four regionals at the fair, quality of life for pilots at American Eagle seemed to be the best. In addition to a hiring bonus, there is guaranteed advancement due to senior pilots already on property that have the ability to "flow" to American Airlines. That means that 20 pilots per month will be leaving Envoy for a guaranteed job at American. New pilots won't have the opportunity of a guaranteed job at American, but after being with American Eagle for 2 years, they have rights to do a preferential interview with American.

Due to recent events involving American Eagle's relationship with their major carrier, I think that Eagle may have more trouble attracting new pilots to their company. A few weeks ago, Eagle's pilot union voted down another tentative contract proposed by American to secure more planes for the regional carrier. But this agreement required the pilots to take a concessionary contract to fly larger planes during a time when their parent company is making over 2 billion dollars in profit.

Shortly after American Eagle voted down the new contract, American Airlines announced that the regional carrier would not be getting any new airplanes and would also be reducing their fleet of less efficient jets. American Eagle's uncertain future may deter future pilot applicants.

The job fair ran from 9 am until 2 pm today and applicants were encouraged to register with Sun n Fun for a specific time slot in order to make sure all applicants had a chance to meet with the recruiters. It was still early in the morning when I talked to the recruiters but there seemed to be a continuous flow of people meeting with them. They also were eager to talk to aviation enthusiasts.