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Which Regional Airlines Are Paying Pilots the Most in 2023

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.

This post is comparing regional airline pilot pay base rates and does not take into account bonuses, which are 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. Regional airline pilot job applicants should be aware this makes their compensation volatile, and should take the complete picture of compensation when choosing an employer.

Example airplane that pilots can earn regional airline pay rates while flying

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 Air18121675
Mesa Airlines181 (1)215 (1)76
PSA Airlines17121375
Skywest Airlines18121676
Republic Airways17621775
Air Wisconsin18321775
Envoy Air18121372
Horizon Air18221570
Piedmont Airlines18121375
Silver Airways12014175
Denver Air Connection22528069
Ravn Alaska13214770

Regional Airlines Pilot Pay Comparison – First Officer

AirlineAverage Hourly RateHighest Hourly RateMinimum Monthly Hour Guarantee
Endeavor Air10912075
Mesa Airlines105110 (1)76
PSA Airlines10510875
Skywest Airlines9710576
Republic Airways929475
Air Wisconsin10311175
Envoy Air10510872
Horizon Air10010870
Piedmont Airlines10510875
Silver Airways565975
Denver Air Connection10913169
Ravn Alaska747870

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

Pay rate information source: Airline Pilot Central

Recent Regional Airline Pilot Pay Increases

In the last year three carriers within the American Airlines feeder system announced significant increases to their hourly pay rates. These include PSA Airlines, Envoy Air, and Piedmont Airlines. Following this, most other operators also raised their regional airline pilot pay rates. Pilots looking at these rates should be aware that they are temporary, and there is a chance that they could drop back to me more inline with historical standard within a few years.

The top end of some of the pay scales at some of these carriers takes 20 years of longevity to achieve. Consider both the top end as well as the average when compairing regional airline pay rates. For many pilots, this is a step in their career. They will only accrue a couple years of longevity before moving on to a major airline or legacy carrier.

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.

Greg started his professional pilot journey in 2002 after graduating from Embry Riddle. Since that time he has accumulated over 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, a national low cost airline, a legacy airline, and also working as a manager in charge of Part 135 and Part 121 training programs.

Greg Thomson