It’s no secret that the pilot job market has never been better, at least as far back as anyone with a first-class medical can remember. A pilot shortage equates to more opportunities for pilots to choose high-quality positions as they navigate their career path. Whether you’re just considering a pilot career or have already embarked on that journey – you have more choices than ever before in charting the course for your career.
For most, the ultimate goal is the left seat at a major airline. An excellent goal, and relatable to me since it was my initial goal when I started flight school in 1999.
While the most common path to the majors involves a stop at a regional airline, there is another route that may be a better fit – Airshare.
Full disclosure before we get started – I got lucky. I stumbled into Airshare by accident and, in retrospect, luck. My first position after being a flight instructor was hauling (paper) checks for a night freight company. Yes, that used to be a thing. I was hoping for that first regional airline position but ended up with Airshare instead. Originally fractional/corporate wasn’t a place I intended to be, but I jumped in and never looked back. Eventually, my experiences in the corporate side caused me to abandon my airline aspirations.
Throughout my 16 years in corporate aviation, I have known countless individuals who have chosen Airshare over the regional airlines on their way to a major. This path fits perfectly for those who have a desire for something more fulfilling, for those who prefer a more hands-on approach and for those with an exceptional aptitude, attitude, drive, and personality. Pilots interested in being part of a team and craving the opportunity to interact with customers on a more personal level.
The corporate and fractional aviation career path to the major airlines can provide several benefits over the traditional regional airline route. Here are a few things to think about:
#1: You may land at a major airline sooner
PIC jet time is critical to getting hired with a major airline. At Airshare, depending on your experience, you could hire on as a PIC. If not, our average upgrade time is 18 months, possibly less depending on previous experience. Either way, you could be eligible for the major airline position sooner than at some regionals.
#2: Enjoy a higher quality of life
Because of the regional nature of our business, our pilots spend a significant amount of time at home. Equating to an average of only 10 nights on the road per month. The schedules have fixed cycles of 8 days on, 6 off for PICs, and 10 available, 5 off for SICs.
#3: Better flying
Flying at Airshare (and most fractional/corporate companies) is simply more interesting than airline flying. We go to FBOs instead of terminals. Routine operations take us to interesting locations including mountain airports, tropical hot spots, remote locations, and international destinations.
#4 Be part of a team
We all spend a very large percentage of our lives at work and our work should mean something to us. At Airshare, crewmembers develop relationships with their customers and fellow pilots. As a result, this creates an environment where the pilots’ work provides meaning and they become part of a team.
All that, and still land your job at a major airline, sooner. And oh, here is the fine print: some of you will fall in love with Airshare and abandon those airline aspirations altogether — like I did.
Remember life is short. We all spend an enormous amount of time at work. Some rough math yields about 35% of your waking hours are spent working! It’s healthy to have goals but make sure that your happiness doesn’t hinge solely on the completion of your goals. Find joy in the journey! Don’t focus on “if only” statements — if only I made ‘x’ amount of money, occupied the left seat, or flew that aircraft then I would be happy. Find a career path you enjoy and one that will provide meaning in your life. I know I did and I’ve never looked back.