pilot pay - keys to retention - jet aircraft keys

Are pilot pay, benefits and quality of life the keys to retention during the talent shortage?

Here at Aviation Personnel International, we happen to think so.

After all, business aircraft owners and operators are feeling the pressure to compete for the best pilots. And many are wondering whether they’re offering the right mix of competitive pilot pay, benefits and a more regular schedule to allow for better quality of life.


Keys to Retention

To further explain these keys to retention, I’ve gathered up the most popular articles that reference them. I’m hoping that you’ll be able to use this information to build a better strategic personnel plan for your aviation organization.


How A Fortune 100 Bizav Leader Secured $1 Million in Pilot Compensation

An industry colleague was able to secure a significant, across-the-board compensation increase for his pilots.

By using some of our API blog content as a reference tool, he built a strong business case to present to his senior management at corporate. In this post, we share his process for doing so, and how he was able to describe how the regional airlines and legacy carriers were aggressively recruiting his talent.


Pilot Compensation is Key to Attraction & Retention

A few years ago, API distributed a survey to 41 aviation directors based here in the United States. The purpose was to identify whether or not the aviation directors were losing qualified talent. And if so, why were the pilots leaving, and where were they going?

According to those who participated, the number one reason professionals left was due to pilot pay. While this research is now a few years old, it’s still an accurate reflection of what’s happening in 2019.


The High Cost of Pilot Turnover

Many flight departments are already operating with a lean staff. And it’s often due to a limited budget for headcount.

One of the major problems with turnover is that the departure of a qualified professional can leave your organization high and dry. And often when you’re least expecting it.

Find out why pilot turnover costs are so high, and why your organization needs a solid retention strategy.


Why Typical Retention Bonuses Don’t Work

The business aviation industry is abuzz about compensation and its relationship to the pilot shortage.

Correspondingly, here at API, we’ve been doing our fair share of compensation consulting with corporate flight departments. Companies want to know how their wages compare to the airline pilots’ salaries, as well as those of other business aviation professionals.

As a result, we’re helping departments think outside the box and take action. And we’re not talking about typical retention bonuses.

In our opinion, they just don’t work. Here’s why.


How to Evaluate Your Total Compensation Package

One of the most pressing issues facing business aviation is the shortage of pilots and maintenance professionals. And because of those shortages, most aviation organizations are modifying their total compensation structures.

While most Part 91 employers cannot match salaries of airline employees, many organizations are winning the war for talent by offering a multi-faceted compensation program. This includes attractive pilot pay, potential bonus, equity in the company and company benefits.

After all, vested, equity-based compensation often leads to very lucrative, high-value compensation packages. But only if you hold and manage the equity piece for the longer term.

Sheryl Barden explains more.


Corporate Aviation vs. Airlines

One of our more controversial blogs—in terms of the comments it generated—is this article about two pilots who left business aviation for a major airline. And both ended up regretting their decision.

While their particular experiences aren’t always the case, they illustrate that the grass may not always be greener when it comes to compensation.


Six Ways to Find and Keep New Pilots

Now in our third year of an unprecedented pilot shortage, there simply aren’t enough quality pilots in queue to fly your aircraft. How did this happen, why is it so, and what can you do?

In this post, we share ways to ensure that your NextGen pilots are satisfied and want to stay with you. It’s important, we think, that you have enough new pilots in the pipeline to take over for your future retiring pilots.


Look Before You Leap, or Vice Versa?

A great rule of thumb is to realize that there is no such thing as the “perfect” job. But there do happen to be a lot of great jobs out there for pilot employees and other aviation pros.

When deciding whether to stay with or leave the business aviation industry, it’s critical to look at things from all angles. Here’s why it’s important to look before you leap.


10 Ways to Show Appreciation

I’m sure we’ve all heard the adage “People don’t leave companies; they leave bosses.”

It reminds us of what what most aviation professionals really crave (aside from adequate compensation). It is greater appreciation for the work they do and the roles they play.

Here, we share 10 suggestions for demonstrating the kind of appreciation your network of professionals LOVE to receive.


BizAv Workforce Shortage: Do We Need a Paradigm Change?

For those who think we’re only competing for talent strictly based on compensation, we ask you to think again.

As the statistics and countless surveys tell us, not everyone today is motivated by money. In this article, we share a few out-of-the-box ideas to address the talent shortage that were aired at an NBAA Workforce Summit.


Hangar-Hopping: Is the Grass Really Greener?

We’ve all heard the phrase, “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” It applies to some recent conversations we’ve had with both pilots and maintenance professionals who are thinking of leaving for the lure of money and/or a better schedule.

In this post, former director of aviation Keith Shelburn and Sheryl Barden discuss the pros and cons of “hangar-hopping.”


Is there a Ceiling in Business Aviation?

Whenever I think of issues surrounding career advancement in business aviation, I often think back to a conversation I had years ago with Steve Ripley. (If you’re not familiar, he’s the Aviation Director for a large, Fortune 100 consumer product goods company).

Steve shares examples of why there may be an advancement “ceiling,” and how we can address compensation issues.



As I hope you can see, this list of recent articles raises and discusses some of the most critical issues regarding pilot pay, benefits and quality of life in business aviation. As you peruse them, I ask you to keep in mind that nothing is set in stone.

In short, things are bound to change. For now, however, these selected topics will hopefully help you improve your flight departments’ overall operation.

Keep in touch and let us know what issues or ideas you might have come across on these topics. After all, it’s through a meaningful exchange of ideas that we can all help each other move forward more successfully.



  • Thank you for including the article mentioning appreciation. Sometimes the simplest gestures can make the most significant impact on morale. I think one of the most underrated factors in the Airline vs. Corporate debate are the unique relationships that we can build with our co-workers and passengers. Just as in any marriage, sometimes you just have to show the other you love them; not with gifts, but by making them feel appreciated.

    And thank you and your team for all you do for this industry.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}