FedEx is offering bonuses of between $40,000 and $100,000 to pilots who delay their retirements, as the company struggles to attain pilot numbers for the upcoming Christmas season.
Airlines and courier companies have faced reduced pilot numbers on the wake of new federal regulations introduced in 2013. The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) states that commercial co-pilots must have at least 1,500 hours of flight time under their belts, up from just 250 hours before 2013.
A longer-standing federal law is that commercial pilots must retire at the age of 65.
However, the e-commerce boom has made each holiday season more record-breaking than the last, in terms of business done and volumes shipped. On top of that, around half of FedEx’s current workforce is due to retire soon.
Companies like FedEx have been forced to grab experienced pilots from the private jet industry and military, while UPS has launched new internships and training programmes. Other airlines have tried to incentivise pilots from other parts of the world to join their ranks.
According to The Washington Post, even flight instructors are switching to better paid jobs at the first opportunity because demand for their skills is so high, making it harder to find the pilots to train new recruits.
FedEx pilots with 30 years’ experience currently earn around $300,000, before the bonuses are applied. It’s the highest-paid job among US carriers.