Hey, I’m supposed to start training at ATP really soon, but I’m having some concerns about the current state of the world and the airline industry. I’ve already completed my bachelor’s degree but have little to no experience flying besides a couple of intro flights.
Recently, I’ve been hearing that hiring for the foreseeable future is slowing down a ton, and getting a job right out of training might be pretty difficult. I’d be looking to finish up my 1500 hours sometime in 2022, and I’ve been told that the regionals may still have a gap in hiring around that time. Would it still be wise to start training at ATP as soon as possible? One option I’m considering is delaying starting at ATP and instead finding a job and doing the PPL portion at a local flight school instead.
Pretty sure there isn’t a single person out there who knows how exactly things will work out, and whether or not a vaccine will be found soon and this pandemic passes or if we’ll be stuck with social distancing and all these other measures for a long time. But I’m hoping I can at least get some advice on navigating this tricky time. I’m pretty wary of taking out a substantial loan only to find that the career track I planned on isn’t there, but I know that timing is extremely important and that starting as soon as possible can be the difference between having a job or getting furloughed.
First and foremost you’re correct, there isn’t a single person who knows exactly how this is going to go. You’re also correct that timing is everything but no one knows that either until after the fact.
If you asked me this same question 2 yrs ago I would’ve (and did) say you’re golden. I was wrong, we all were. In our defense who (except maybe Bill Gates?) saw this pandemic coming? But if you look back at my responses 2yrs ago I also said (and always have and been criticized at times for saying) NOTHING is guaranteed. This industry is cyclical, it can be hypersensitive to changes in the economy and world events. This is the greatest job on the planet but I doubt you’ll find anyone who’d use the word “stable” or “safe” to describe it.
So where does that leave you? All the airlines have stated they believe (?) they’ll see a full recovery in 2yrs. If they’re right that would put you in the right place at the right time. Perfect. But will they be right? Get out your Magic 8 ball because that knows as much as any of us. I started my training at ATP in 2003, 2yrs after 9/11. There were still pilots on furlough and everyone told me I was insane. I wanted to be a pilot and decided if that meant flight instructing or doing some charter flying that would be great. Never dreamed I’d make it to the airlines. During my training things started ramping up, I submitted my application (with ATPs help) to ExpressJet and had an interview 10 days later. My timing was impeccable. I was on the front side of a hiring wave and when things got ugly again and there were furloughs, the pilots who waited for the industry to be “safe” were the first to go, I was safe. Now the same is happening again and again, due to my timing, I should be fine. Am I a genius? No. I’ve been lucky.
Pasteur said “chance favors the prepared mind”. I’ve always like that but in my mind it’s chance favors the prepared. If you’re trained and ready when things open up you’ll be in a position to take advantage of the opportunity. If you wait you’ll be playing catchup and those who didn’t will be way ahead of you.
Your call and again there are no guarantees but I’d stick to my plans.
It is all just so impossible to know what the future holds in regards to airline hiring. What I do know is that people have a desire to travel and that hundreds of pilots retire every year due to the age 65 requirement. I suspect that the industry will come back just fine and that there will once again be a large demand for pilots. Those that train now will be well positioned to take advantage of those opportunities.
My $.02… what’s the worst that can happen if the airlines aren’t hiring in 2 years? When they do, you’ll have more than the minimum 1500 hours under your belt. Your 2000 hour resume will look better than the 1500 hour version.