Long before the pandemic, the airlines were talking about a coming pilot shortage. Now the shortage has arrived, but not in the way it was imagined, with several airlines forced to cancel flights because of illness among crew.
Airline industry figures have long pointed out some of the other reasons: It's expensive to get training as a commercial pilot, and then there can be years of low-paid flying jobs to get enough time in the air to be hired by airlines. And, with a smaller military, the supply of military-trained pilots who helped fill the seats is much smaller.
Breeze Airways, one of last year's startup airlines is facing a slowdown in its growth, and is both recruiting pilots from Australia, and raising pay to keep the ones it has. United has invested in more paid pilot training.
And Delta has now removed an obstacle to its hiring: It will no longer require its pilots to have four-year college degrees, although it says it will still 'prefer' that. Changing the rule means that a pool of potential pilots who are not interested in a college degree or want to earn one over time will be able to start earlier on piling up the 1500 hours of commercial flying time needed for airline pilots.