Airline convention at Mighty Eighth aims to combat pilot shortage

Updated: Aug. 24, 2018 at 12:48 PM EDT
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POOLER, GA (WTOC) - Airlines continue to experience a pilot shortage worldwide causing many companies to offer bigger incentives to attract new recruits.

The Rotary to Airline Group Convention is happening on Saturday, Aug. 25, at the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum in Pooler.

Organizers said now is the time for people who have considered a career in aviation. Airlines need pilots and mechanics and they're offering big incentives to new hires.

Erik Sabiston, President of the Rotary to Airline Group, said several factors are playing a role in the worldwide pilot shortage.

Retirement is a big factor. Many pilots are taking their final flights and behind leaving empty seats. Airlines aren't seeing enough new hires to fill these seats.

Another issue causing the shortage is due to federal policy. The U.S. Government requires a new pilot to have 1,500 training hours before signing with an airline. The training can be very expensive. Some students said they have more than $200,000 of debt due to the many hours of training.

Airlines are adding big incentives like higher starting pay and help with those training hours.

"Some people say we will need 789,000 pilots worldwide in the next few decades. So, airlines have quadrupled or more their starting pay for pilots and mechanics. The airlines are also paying for training for pilots and mechanics," Sabiston said.

The convention will include a number of airlines looking to hire pilots and mechanics, or offer advice for those wanting another position in the aviation field.

The main convention will take place from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday. Organizers said people should come whether they're interested in an aviation career or not. There will be several giveaways and free shuttles to the Savannah Hilton Head International Airport where you can take a tour of several different aircrafts.

For more information on the convention, click here.

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