In the face of ever-increasing staffing issues as the pilot shortage deepens regional airlines across the United States have been increasing pay and bonuses in an effort to compete against each other for the limited pilot applicants available to them. Gone are the days when regional pilot pay was jokingly compared to fast food workers. Jump to the Pay Comparison Table >>

Working at a regional airline is usually an early step in a pilot’s career. The operations are similar to those found at major airlines but with smaller airplanes. Most regional airlines operate under a fee-for-departure system where they are paid to operate the airplane on set routes by a major airline. In an environment like we are facing today where the regional airlines are forced to compete for applicants this arrangement doesn’t impact pilots as much. But in a down cycle it can cause a ‘race to the bottom’ where regional airlines are slashing employee wages in an effort to compete against each other to secure agreements with the major airlines.

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This post is comparing base pay rates and does not take into account bonuses, which are very common now and often substantial. But bonuses can and will change fast. It is why airlines like to use them as a tool to attract prospects. It makes it easy for them to rapidly role back wage increases should the job market turn tomorrow. But pilot job applicants should be aware this makes their compensation volatile, and should take the complete picture of compensation when choosing an employer.

There are a lot of regional airlines in the United States. For this reason some very small or niche airlines are not included in this comparison. The chart includes hourly rates and monthly guarantee, multiply the two together to get the minimum amount you will be paid in a month. Be aware, if an airline has a higher monthly guarantee it often means reduced quality of work life balance. But also keep in mind that the guarantee is a minimum and there will likely be opportunities to earn more hours. Learn How Pilot Pay Works >>

Pay at an employer is significantly effected by the position held (captain vs first officer). Just because an airline has a higher pay rate doesn’t necessarily mean you make more money if more time is spent as a first officer.

Airline Entry Pay High Pay Average Rate Min Guarantee
CommutAir 36 102 87 75
Endeavor Air 50 122 86 75
ExpressJet 37 109 73 75
Mesa Airlines 36 108 72 76
PSA Airlines 39 105 72 75
SkyWest 37 121 79 76
Republic Airline 45 129 87 75
Trans States Airlines 36 106 71 75
Air Wisconsin 36 111 73.5 75
Compass Airlines 41 119 80 75
Envoy air 38 106 72 72
Horizon Air 40 119 79.5 70
Piedmont Airlines 39 93 66 75

Pay rate information source: Airline Pilot Central

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About Greg Thomson

Greg started his professional pilot journey in 2002 after graduating from Embry Riddle. Since that time he has accumulated over 7,000 hours working as a pilot. Greg’s professional experience includes flight instructing, animal tracking, backcountry flying, forest firefighting, passenger charter, part 135 cargo, and flying for a regional airline. Greg took a 5 year hiatus from flying and worked in software development and marketing. He has since returned to flying as a cargo pilot. Greg enjoys educating and helping pilots improve their professional lives and is passionate about applying technology and new methods to help with traditional challenges.