(NewsNation Now) — Airlines across the country have been met with staffing shortages and flight cancellations since the start of the pandemic. Now, the U.S. is projected to be short 12,000 pilots by 2023, according to an Oliver Wyman study.
Early retirement is to blame for the expected shortfall. Last year, roughly 18,000 Delta employees accepted buyouts and early retirement packages. The International Air Transport Association estimates that in 2020 over 1.9 million employees worldwide lost their jobs in the airline industry.
In an effort to combat the shortage, Delta Air Lines announced last week a change to its pilot hiring requirements.
The company has decided to make its four-year college degree “preferred” rather than “required” for first officer candidates, effective immediately.
While we feel as strongly as ever about the importance of education, there are highly qualified candidates – people who we would want to welcome to our Delta family – who have gained more than the equivalent of a college education through years of life and leadership experience. Making the four-year degree requirement preferred removes unintentional barriers to our Delta flight decks.Delta Air Lines Pilot Recruiting
Staffing shortages and COVID outbreaks have riddled the airline industry and continue to impact flights daily. United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said this week that 3,000 employees currently have tested positive for COVID-19. He has credited the company’s vaccine requirement for saving lives and keeping employees on the job.