Strong Demand Means American Airlines Wants To Hire More Pilots

American Airlines wants to hire far more pilots than previously anticipated as the airline’s operations continue to rebound. The airline intends to take on 350 new pilots by the end of this year and more than 1,000 next year to tie in with the aviation industry’s ongoing recovery.

American Airlines, Pilot Recruitment, New Pilots
American Airlines intends to hire 350 pilots this year and more than 1,000 in 2022. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

There’s no secret that aviation in the United States is starting to heal. One just needs to look at the TSA passenger numbers, which have been steadily rising for most of 2021. Airlines need aircraft in the air to fly these passengers, which means that they will need pilots to fly them.

Resuming pilot hiring

In a memo issued yesterday, American Airlines’ Vice President of Flight, Chip Long, revealed that the airline was to resume hiring pilots and wanted to increase the number of pilots it had already planned to hire next year. Long acknowledged that the industry is not at 2019 levels yet, but attention is focused on the long term.

In total, the US carrier currently intends to hire around 350 new pilots in the next six months, with over 1,000 vacancies planned for 2022. The airline will open pilot applications tomorrow and has several target groups planned.

In September, the airline will resume classes for newly hired pilots. These will include pilots transitioning from the airline’s partners, Envoy, Piedmont, and PAS, in addition to other pilots who were employed at the start of the pandemic but have yet to start work. It’s unclear exactly when those hired now will begin training.

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Passengers on the rise in the US

The number of passengers in the US is continuing to rise steadily. According to TSA statistics, the agency saw roughly 80% of the passengers over the past seven days than it did in 2019. Assuming that passenger growth continues to rise at approximately the same pace, it is entirely possible that the TSA could be reporting 2019 statistics by mid-August.

American Airlines, Pilot Recruitment, New Pilots
TSA passenger numbers have been steadily growing for much of 2021. Data: TSA

According to flight-tracking data from, the number of domestic US flights operated in the week from July 9th to July 16th was down less than 10% on 2019 figures. Compared to 2020, it had risen by 46%.

American Airlines, Pilot Recruitment, New Pilots
Domestic flights are down about 10% on pre-pandemic figures. Image:

There is still a bit more to be desired when it comes to flights out of the United States. While last week’s traffic figures were up 71% from those seen in 2020, they still sit some 28% lower than the number of flights seen in 2019. One would expect that as soon as the transatlantic travel corridor is allowed to reopen, there will be a sharp increase in international flight numbers.

American Airlines, Pilot Recruitment, New Pilots
International flight still leaves a lot to be desired. Photo:

What do you make of American Airlines’ decision to resume pilot hiring? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!