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.

Regional Airlines Pilot Pay Comparison – Captain

AirlineAverage Hourly RateHighest Hourly RateMinimum Monthly Hour Guarantee
Endeavor Air10712775
Mesa Airlines89 (1)113 (1)76
PSA Airlines17121375
Skywest Airlines10413076
Republic Airways11314075
Air Wisconsin9812375
Envoy Air18121372
Horizon Air10412970
Piedmont Airlines18121375
Silver Airways9511275
Denver Air Connection14728069
Ravn Alaska10211770

Regional Airlines Pilot Pay Comparison – First Officer

AirlineAverage Hourly RateHighest Hourly RateMinimum Monthly Hour Guarantee
Endeavor Air637075
Mesa Airlines43 (1)52 (1)76
PSA Airlines10510875
Skywest Airlines576376
Republic Airways546075
Air Wisconsin505675
Envoy Air10510872
Horizon Air576270
Piedmont Airlines10510875
Silver Airways464975
Denver Air Connection9013169
Ravn Alaska646870

(1) – Mesa Airlines hourly rate does not include the airline’s 737 payscales.

Pay rate information source: Airline Pilot Central

Recent Pay Increases

In a recent months three carriers within the American Airlines feeder system have announced significant increases to their hourly pay rates. These include PSA Airlines, Envoy Air, and Piedmont Airlines. Pilots looking at these rates should be aware that they are also temporary, and there is a chance that they could drop back to me more inline with industry standard within a few years. Additionally, the top end of the pay scales at each of these carriers takes 20 years of longevity to achieve.

But the significance of these pay rates should not be overlooked. It shows an effort to address staffing issues at these airlines and reflects the nature of where the industry is at in pursuing airline qualified pilots.


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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 close to 8,000 hours working as a pilot. Greg’s professional experience includes flight instructing, animal tracking, backcountry flying, forest firefighting, passenger charter, part 135 cargo, flying for a regional airline, and working as a manager in charge of a part 135 and part 121 training programs. Greg took a 5 year hiatus from flying and worked in software development and marketing. He has returned to flying and works for a major airline. Greg enjoys educating and helping pilots improve their professional lives and is passionate about applying technology and new methods to help with traditional challenges.