Newly hired pilots at Executive AirShare could earn as much as $100,000 a year in starting pay beginning this summer.
It’s part of a broader salary increase for pilots at the fractional aircraft ownership company, who will see their pay increase between 18 and 30 percent this year. That’s based on their time with the company as well as the aircraft they fly.
“We’re not immune to the pilot shortage that permeates the entire aviation industry,” said Harry Mitchel, Executive AirShare’s chief operating officer.
Mitchel said attracting new and retaining current pilots is important for the company in the background of a broader pilot shortage. Although Executive AirShare doesn’t compete with major airlines for pilots, it does with other corporate aircraft operators as well as regional airlines.
“It’s a pretty big bump just for our recruiting,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we’re highly competitive on the starting side.”
The Lenexa-based company with operations in Wichita has a goal to hire 25 more pilots in the next six months. That will help it transition all of its pilots to a schedule in which they would be available to fly for eight consecutive days, followed by six days off, Mitchel said. Its pilots currently work a schedule of 10 consecutive days followed by five days off.
“We feel strongly with our compensation package … we’ll have probably one of the best schedules in the industry,” Mitchel said.
Executive AirShare’s 78 pilots are spread across its bases in five states, including in Wichita.
The pay increases will roll out to co-pilots in April followed by captains, or pilots-in-command, in July. The company said under the hike, starting co-pilots will make $56,000 a year. And a captain of one of Executive AirShare’s Embraer Phenom 300 business jets would start at $100,000, for example.
To offer the across-the-board increases, Executive AirShare had to go to the fractional owners of its fleet of Phenom 100 and 300 and Cessna Citation CJ2+ business jets as well as Beechcraft King Air turboprops. Mitchel said it wasn’t too hard a sell.
To have quality, corporate pilots “you have to have a competitive compensation package,” he said. “And our customers understand that.”
Executive AirShare’s fractional owners will see their monthly shared expenses increase to pay for the higher pilot salaries, Mitchel said.
It’s something the company did a few years ago at its managed aircraft division, Executive Flight Services — in which owners of business aircraft pay to house and maintain their planes and provide them pilots. Mitchel said the company explained to them that to keep the pilots they had, they would have to pay more money. Working with those owners the company found a “sweet spot” in a pilot wage increase and “we had 100 percent buy-in of all our managed owners,” he said.
Since that increase, the managed aircraft division has seen a zero percent attrition rate over a 12-month period, Mitchel said.