Pilots are a big deal at Avelo Airlines. While it is actively hiring for a number of roles, pilots are a prime focus for the carrier. Avelo’s Founder and CEO, Andrew Levy, has made it clear that the airline’s big push for pilots includes making sure that it can translate into a larger, successful career for individuals, while supporting the airline’s underlying growth strategy.
Building a competitive offering
Andrew Levy, CEO and Founder of Avelo, spoke on an XML Financial Group webinar, and was asked about the airline’s big push to hire more pilots, including boosting various aspects of compensation, while also allowing pilots to have far greater flexibility in terms of where and how they want to live. The airline’s pay is incredibly competitive and offering some of the best in the industry in the first year, and certainly among the best in the low-cost sector.
However, according to Mr. Levy, the airline views its current positioning as something that will be an incredibly attractive offering. This includes the current positioning:
“Certainly when you join an airline when it’s really small, you have a high seniority number. And one day [when] we get to be really big, that high seniority number has tremendous value to pilots because it affords them the opportunity to better control their schedule.”
While many people are familiar with office-style jobs that involve traditional set working hours and a daily commute, the pilot lifestyle can be vastly different. Pilots at many airlines will generally be looking at overnight trips away from home, work times that include red-eyes, and time zone shifts. The more senior a pilot is, the better chance they have of getting the schedule that they want to fly.
Of course, Avelo is an airline with only six planes right now. However, by the end of the year, that six will grow to a 15. In 2023, the airline will likely continue to grow, and from there on out, the carrier will start to broaden its ranks and seniority will definitely start to kick in, especially as the airline also adds many new destinations to its network. Getting in early has a huge benefit in this case.
A better quality of life
Even more junior pilots starting at Avelo are going to be in a position that few other airlines can match. As Mr. Levy continued:
“All of our aircraft come home every night. And so if you want to live in Connecticut, Fairfield County, New Haven, thereabouts, you get to drive to the airport, fly a couple trips, come home and sleep in your own bed.”
This out-and-back scheduling of crew is something that is relatively rare in the airline industry. Among larger airlines in the US, this kind of offering is something that few are able to provide. While Avelo may stray from that strategy in the future, should it be more economical to do so, the argument the airline is putting forward is that junior pilots now are in a far better position with the quality of their life than other airlines, should they choose to live at a base.
Avelo is looking to build careers
Airlines hungry for pilots have often taken a host of different strategies. Some have tried to attract older pilots closer to retirement who may have left another airline during the crisis. Others have committed more heavily to overall training programs and building a pipeline of pilots very early on in a person’s training career. Avelo is taking more of a middle-ground approach.
The airline has consistently stated it will consider all applicants, but it is making it clear that it is looking to be an attractive place to work that builds careers, as Mr. Levy stated:
“It’s a great opportunity for a lot of people to have a wonderful career and it’s good to be a pilot right now. Airplanes without pilots don’t do us a whole lot of good. So we need to make sure that we can bring really skilled experienced aviators that will look at this as a career opportunity.”
This strategy is largely geared toward pilots who may be earlier on in their flying career, but it represents some of the long-term commitment the airline is looking to make with its employees. Especially with a carrier that is new to the market, some prospective hires may not have familiarity with the airline or its model, and thus may worry about what the long-term will look like.
Avelo certainly will still need to continue doing work to hire. The market for pilots right now is very hot, and almost everyone from Avelo to the major US network carriers is hiring for new pilots at a stunning pace. Nevertheless, Avelo is putting its best foot forward in this respect, and it is trying to get as many people to recognize that it wants to bring on people who will stay with the airline’s growth trajectory.