Real Answers from Real Pilots


United Airlines speeding up shift from small, regional flights to larger planes

Let me start by saying I’m not posting this to play Chicken Little and cry “The sky is falling” or put fear into the hearts of would be pilots, au contraire. I AM posting this to impress upon you all that a) this industry is always changing and b) sooner is ALWAYS better than later. I don’t believe the Regionals are in trouble or are going away any time soon. I do however believe that this is one example of how the Majors are dealing with the Regional pilot shortage AND the fact the Majors (and the industry) are doing very well and actually expanding back into markets they formerly discarded. What this says to me is (again) sooner is better than later because if the Majors continue to expand their flying and reducing Regional flying, the first place they’ll be looking is to the current Regional pilot pool of Capts thus reducing time at the Majors for those that are there (or will be soon). Now you might then conclude that the Regionals will have to ramp up hiring even more because the Majors are sucking them dry, BUT if their flying is reduced they may not have to. What it also says (to me) is that those of you who are very cavalier about your educations and are thinking “I’ll get my degree whenever” might find themselves with less time to do so. Even worse those without could potentially get bypassed by those with and find themselves “stuck” for a while.

Truth is I could be completely wrong and this could be United just hedging a little BUT I also could be right? Best solution? A) Get cracking kiddies cause either way sooner is better and B) having an education will never be a bad thing. Just some food for thought.



Don’t you think this will increase the gap ?
reduced flying for regionals means less pilots are needed, and Majors expansion means more pilots are needed ! (just assuming).

Not sure what you mean by gap?

I mean the flight time, normally pilots take Regionals as a step to build flight time, when Regionals itself become scarce, the gap between flight time acquired after training, and that required by Majors.

No, (as I said above) I believe you’ll see the time required to get to a Major from a Regional may decrease (at least until they catch up). Also (again) while Regional flying may decline they’re still behind so they’ll continue to hire, particularly if the Majors are cleaning them out.


I hope so.
It is a courage for all potential pilots.

Thanks for the post, Adam.

How much time do you think a person will spend at regionals if this happens?


Hard to say? First this is not a “if this happens”. If you read the article IT IS HAPPENING. The question is will it prove profitable and will it continue? If so the answer is “less”. How much less? We’ll have to see.


Do you think this will adversely effect job prospects for regional airlines and therefore hinder advancement to a mainline? It’s scary to think that you could graduate and just be stagnant in hiring pools without the possibility of flying for any airline. When do you think it’ll be to one late?


As I said this is just United (for now) and they’re taking back “some” routes. For now I don’t think it will effect hiring at all, particularly since we’re still very short on pilots in the US. My pint in showing the article was to impress upon you all that this boom we’re currently in will/can not last for ever. The “scary” you refer to is what MOST pilots have gone through at some point in their career. The current environment where everyone who simply completes training, builds time and gets hired is unprecedented in this industry. When will it be too late is anyone’s guess but I for one would not be dilly dallying.


Let’s not forget that shifting flying from the regionals to the majors is a very good thing. Major airline pilot pay is significantly higher than regional pay, plus the contracts are more mature in other areas as well. The more flying that comes back to mainline, the more high paid jobs there will be.