7 Ways Aviation's Workforce Shortage Impacts Private Aviation

By Jason Zilberbrand

October 10, 2022 Educational

If you're traveling, you're probably aware of the aviation workforce shortage across the U.S. Whether you travel for personal or business reasons, you're likely noticing a pattern from one location to the next.

Airports don't have enough workers to make flying more efficient. Furthermore, airlines have been hiking up ticket prices to recoup lost revenue since the pandemic's start. Remember, airlines didn't just lose $168 billion in revenue in 2020, but aviation operators also made $500 billion less revenue in the same year.

The solution, however, isn't as simple as adding more bodies to the workflow, and it also doesn't mean every business with the means should rush to purchase a private aircraft. As one issue snowballs into another, here are the seven ways aviation's workforce shortage impacts the private aircraft industry.

Need an expert aircraft appraisal or valuation? VREF is your go-to tool for trusted aircraft appraisals.

7 Ways The Airline Labor Shortage In 2022 Is Impacting Private Aviation

What in the world is going on with the aviation workforce shortage lately? You're not the only one pondering this question, and the truth is – there are several reasons.

1. Not Enough Pilots To Go Around

As much as aviation wants to move beyond covid and return to pre-pandemic numbers, it isn't that easy. The pandemic caused a domino effect, which impacted aviation several years later. One of aviation's most significant problems is the lack of pilots available to operate aircraft.

The competition for hiring pilots is fierce. In some cases, entry-level positions for commercial pilots start at $100 an hour. Airlines and corporations with deeper pockets mean fewer pilots are open to lower-paying private jobs. Also, many senior pilots retired at the height of the pandemic, taking lucrative retirement packages to help airlines cut costs. However, the lack of available pilots stands out now that flights are back in demand.

One study estimates that about 42% of current airline pilots will retire by 2026. And since a career as a pilot in aviation is highly technical, this isn't a problem that will resolve itself soon.

2. Training Is Necessary

Pilots must have formal training to become a pilot. This may seem obvious, but there's more to it than that. Many pilots enter a career in aviation from the military. In fact, out of about 734,991 pilots in the U.S., more than 43,000 are or were in the military. But those numbers continue to dwindle as pilots retire and military recruitment suffers. There simply isn't enough interest in enlisting in the military to produce well-trained pilots to help meet demand.

In addition, not just anyone can jump into the pilot's seat. Becoming a pilot requires certification, testing, and training. This includes mandatory flight hours, which can vary depending on which aircraft you are flying. It's a highly technical position that must ensure the safety of both pilots and the general public.

Found an aircraft you're interested in? Visit VREF for quality aircraft appraisals.

3. Lack Of Interest In Aviation Careers

A fair number of universities and flight schools offer aircraft classes and training. But there simply aren't enough students interested in enrolling. Knowing that many jobs can come from getting a degree in aviation is essential. Aircraft mechanics, technicians, and engineers often graduate from aviation schools.

Nevertheless, rising tuition costs, a competitive workforce, and life-altering changes from the pandemic contribute to low university enrollment. Even international students are pulling back because of the pandemic, which accounts for many aviation students.

RELATED: Top Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University FAQs

4. Job Retention Is Poor

Burnout is another factor contributing to the aviation workforce shortage in 2022. Like jobs in teaching, food service, and medicine, careers in aviation are there. Yet, employee turnover is another reason private aviation can't keep up with demand. Smaller aviation companies and the businesses that want to hire them simply can't keep up with the cutthroat competition, including those offering:

  • Higher pay

  • Better benefits

  • Flexible scheduling

  • Extra PTO

  • Company perks

  • And bonuses

Not having enough employees to maintain airline operations is so severe United Airlines is considering pulling out of JFK Airport because there aren't enough people to continue services.

5. Remote Positions Are Favored

Pushed forward by the pandemic, many people and companies across the U.S. embraced the idea of remote work. This leaves many businesses that work more efficiently together less prevalent in the job market.

Employees looking for flexible hours and zero mileage to work prefer minor roles over in-person ones. And while being a pilot can pay $130,440 a year on average, the hours are long, and showing up "to the office" is necessary.

6. Higher Demand For Private Aircraft

As commercial flights began to fill up, private aviation trends rapidly grew. Amid the aviation workforce shortage, those with the ability to do so became interested in buying their aircraft. While this sounds great in theory for aircraft manufacturers, they simply weren't prepared for the influx of demand.

The demand is so high that finding a used plane is also challenging. It's a seller's market, and with each viable listing comes more than one competing offer, making pre-owned aircraft worth much more than in years past.

7. Backordered Parts & Planes

Even if manufacturers had the number of employees they need to operate, some things are out of their hands. Essential plane parts and components of an aircraft, like semiconductor chips, plastics, steel, and aluminum, are in meager supply. And whatever is available costs much more than it usually does. Because of this, manufacturers continue to be unable to produce aircraft quickly enough for the demand.

Some manufacturers still feel the impact of halting operations, even temporarily, to offset production costs during the global shutdown, and a few even had to furlough or eliminate staff members. So, as the orders pile up, the waiting list for aircraft delivery starts to extend beyond 2025.

Plug Into Real-Time Data & Information From Your Trusted Aviation Authority

Aviation is experiencing some challenges, but it won't be this way forever. Whether you're thinking about buying an aircraft now or in the future, VREF is here to help. From business jets and single-engine aircraft to commercial aircraft and more, VREF is your number-one tool for trusted aircraft appraisals.

Contact VREF today to get started.