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Which U.S. Airlines Are Offering Sign-On Bonuses to New Pilots?

Even as hiring trends change, some carriers are still offering lucrative bonuses to new pilots.

Pilot executing pre-flight procedures in a commercial airliner cockpit before takeoff. (Photo: Shutterstock)

In the early months of 2024, many airlines in the United States have made headlines for their decisions to slow or pause pilot hiring. Large carriers like American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have halted their new hire pilot classes amid a slowdown in hiring across major carriers.

However, the trend is not universal across the entire industry. Regional airlines are still in great need of new pilots after many pilots left these carriers for higher-paying positions at major airlines between 2021 and 2023.

Some of these carriers are even offering generous incentives for new hires. Here are the airlines that are currently offering sign-on bonuses to new pilots:

GoJet Airlines

GoJet currently has sign-on bonuses for both first officers and captains. New hire first officers are being offered an $18,000 sign-on bonus that will be paid daily over 24 months. GoJet also has a hiring stream for experienced first officers who are close to meeting captain requirements. These new hires are being offered a $20,000 hiring bonus, a $40,000 upgrade bonus at the time of upgrade to the left seat, and an additional $25,000 sign-on bonus if they already hold a CRJ type rating. 

Meanwhile, direct entry captains are being given a $175,000 sign-on bonus and an additional $25,000 if they have previous Part 121 experience, to be paid out over 12 months. GoJet exclusively operates Bombardier CRJ-550 jets under the United Express banner. The airline has crew bases in Chicago (ORD), Newark (EWR), St. Louis (STL), and Washington, D.C. (IAD).

United Express CRJ aircraft operated by GoJet in Newark (Photo: Shutterstock)

Air Wisconsin

Air Wisconsin is offering captain-qualified new hires a $200,000 bonus within 18 months of completing their initial operating experience. New hires will not need to sign a contract to receive this bonus. The regional carrier has crew bases in Chicago (ORD), Dayton (DAY), and Milwaukee (MKE) and operates a fleet of Bombardier CRJ-200 aircraft. Air Wisconsin flies under the American Eagle brand out of American’s Chicago (ORD) and Philadelphia (PHL) hubs.

CommuteAir

CommuteAir currently has sign-on bonuses for new first officers as well as retention bonuses for both first officers and captains. New hire first officers are being offered a $20,000 sign-on bonus and retention bonuses of $5,000 in the first year of employment and $25,000 the following year. Retention bonuses are $50,000 per year for captains. CommuteAir flies Embraer ERJ-145s for United Express, with crew domiciles in Houston (IAH) and Washington, D.C. (IAD).

A CommuteAir Embraer E145 aircraft (Photo: CommuteAir)

Endeavor Air

The Delta subsidiary is offering generous sign-on and retention bonuses to new pilots and a guaranteed career path to Delta. For experienced first officers with qualifying Part 121 or Part 135 experience, Endeavor Air is offering a sign-on bonus of $20,000 to $40,000, based on experience and up to $110,000 in retention bonuses following a Captain upgrade. 

Direct entry captains are being offered a $40,000 sign-on bonus at the end of their initial operating experience and up to $110,000 in retention bonuses afterward. The retention bonuses are being provided in exchange for a commitment to remain at Endeavor during the pilots’ waiting period to advance to Delta. Endeavor pilots fly Bombardier CRJ-700s and CRJ-900s out of the airline’s hubs in Atlanta (ATL), Cincinnati (CVG), Detroit (DTW), Minneapolis (MSP) and New York (JFK and LGA). 

An Endeavor Air CRJ-700 aircraft at New York’s LaGuardia airport (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Horizon Air

Alaska Air Group subsidiary Horizon Air is offering sign-on bonuses for new first officers with FAA-approved prior qualifying time. Those with 500 to 999 hours are being offered $25,000 and those with 1,000 hours or more will receive $50,000. Horizon Air operates Embraer 175s and has crew bases in Anchorage (ANC), Boise (BOI), Medford (MFR), Portland (PDX), Spokane (GEG) and Seattle (SEA and PAE).

A Horizon Air Embraer E175 operating for Alaska Airlines (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Zera)

Piedmont Airlines

Piedmont Airlines is offering sign-on bonuses for new first officers and direct entry captains. Those with 950 or more hours of qualifying time will receive a $100,000 bonus on their first paycheck. New hires with 500-949 hours of qualifying time will earn $75,000. In addition, pilots with 500 or more hours of qualifying time and a type rating for the Embraer 135/150/145 are being offered an additional $50,000 bonus. 

Piedmont is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the American Airlines Group and operates Embraer ERJ-145s under the American Eagle banner. The airline has crew bases in Charlotte (CLT), Harrisburg (MDT), and Philadelphia (PHL).

PSA Airlines

PSA Airlines currently has a $100,000 bonus for direct entry captains. The carrier is another wholly-owned subsidiary of the American Airlines Group. PSA operates Bombardier CRJ-700s and CRJ-900s under the American Eagle brand and has crew bases in Charlotte (CLT), Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Dayton (DAY), Philadelphia (PHL) and Washington, D.C. (DCA).

PSA aircraft in Charlotte (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Republic Airways

Republic Airways is offering up to $100,000 in sign-on bonuses to new captains. The airline flies Embraer 170 and 175 aircraft for American Eagle, Delta Connection, and United Express. Republic has bases in Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Columbus (CMH), Indianapolis (IND) Louisville (SDF), New York (LGA), Newark (EWR), Philadelphia (PHL), Pittsburgh (PIT) and Washington, D.C. (DCA).

SkyWest Airlines

The country’s largest regional carrier is offering new hires with CRJ or Embraer 170/190 type ratings a $7,500 sign-on bonus. SkyWest has 20 crew bases across the country and operates Bombardier Regional Jets and Embraer 175 aircraft. The airline flies under its own charter brand and for Alaska Airlines, American Eagle, Delta Connection, and United Express. 

A SkyWest Embraer E-170 in Las Vegas. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

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Andrew Chen

Author

  • Andrew Chen

    Andrew is a lifelong lover of aviation and travel. He has flown all over the world and is fascinated by the workings of the air travel industry. As a private pilot and glider pilot who has worked with airlines, airports and other industry stakeholders, he is always excited to share his passion for aviation with others. In addition to being a writer, he also hosts Flying Smarter, an educational travel podcast that explores the complex world of air travel to help listeners become better-informed and savvier travelers.

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