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Former American CEO Starting Non-Profit to Promote Aviation Careers

The airline executive hopes to help 'underrepresented' young adults

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker speaks to the Snowball Express crowd in Dallas (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Parker Davis)

Former American Airlines Chairman and CEO Doug Parker is starting a non-profit, according to a Linkedin post on Monday. Parker, who served as CEO of America West, US Airways, and then American for 22 years, said the new charity will “remove the barriers that exist for underrepresented young adults to have rewarding careers in aviation, particularly as pilots.”

Parker’s organization will be named Breaking Down Barriers (BDB).

Parker’s post says that he hopes to create additional opportunities for underrepresented individuals across the aviation sector. “We believe BDB can create an enormous opportunity to transform the lives of underrepresented groups and their communities. That is work worth doing,” the post adds.

The former airline leader has appointed Dana Donati as the CEO of BDB. A former Assistant Chief Pilot for Republic Airways, Donati has wide-ranging experiences across the pilot recruitment and training sectors. Most recently, she served as CEO of United’s Aviate Academy.

“Dana is one of the most highly regarded women in commercial aviation, a talented pilot that most recently was CEO of United Aviate Academy. We are beyond fortunate to have Dana to lead this important cause,” Parker said in his Linkedin post.

Managing the Pilot Shortage

With U.S. airlines on track to hire a record number of pilots in 2023, Parker’s announcement adds to a growing list of creative solutions to attract talent in the aviation industry. All three major U.S. airlines have different pathways to becoming a pilot, sometimes starting from the most basic Private Pilots License (PPL).

While not out of the woods yet, the pilot shortage has begun easing a bit, according to AvWeb. Consultancy firm Oliver Wyman said the North American airline industry is short 14,300 pilots, which is down from 16,900 last year. However, part of this change is due to a slew of regional aircraft being parked. The firm states that regional flights have dropped 36% since 2019 and restoring to that level would require 6,000 more pilots.

Ryan Ewing
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  • Ryan Ewing

    Ryan founded AirlineGeeks.com back in February 2013 and has amassed considerable experience in the aviation sector. His work has been featured in several publications and news outlets, including CNN, WJLA, CNET, and Business Insider. During his time in the industry, he's worked in roles pertaining to airport/airline operations while holding a B.S. in Air Transportation Management from Arizona State University along with an MBA. Ryan has experience in several facets of the industry from behind the yoke of a Cessna 172 to interviewing airline industry executives. Ryan works for AirlineGeeks' owner FLYING Media, spearheading coverage in the commercial aviation space.

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