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Mesa Airlines' pilots will now be the best-paid in the regional airline industry

Aug. 26, 2022
3 min read
Mesa Airlines' pilots will now be the best-paid in the regional airline industry
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The pilots at Mesa Airlines are about to be the best-paid in the regional airline industry.

The Phoenix-based regional airline, which operates the Canadair Regional Jet 900 for American Airlines and the Embraer 175 for United Airlines, will pay its first officers a starting rate of $100 per flight hour and its captains a starting rate of $150 per hour, the union representing its pilots, the Air Line Pilots Association, announced on Friday.

It's the first regional airline to break the $100 per hour starting pay mark for first officers. In June, American Airlines sent shockwaves through the industry when agreements were reached with unions at its three wholly-owned regional airlines to start first officer pay at $90 per flight hour.

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During the airline's third-quarter earnings call earlier this month, Mesa's longtime CEO, Jonathan Ornstein, said that his airline was losing pilots to American's regional airlines.

Prior to this agreement, Mesa's pilots were among the lowest paid in the regional industry. It's a 118% pay hike for first-year first officers and a 172% hike for captains.

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“With strong competition in the regional industry, today’s LOA offers the compensation Mesa needs to remain competitive and attract and retain experienced, qualified pilots,” Capt. Chris Gill, the chair of Mesa's pilot union, said in a statement, referring to the letter of agreement signed between the union and the airline's management. “We’re happy to see management and our partners recognize the value of Mesa pilots.”

The new rates take effect on Sept. 15. The deal is for two years, and the union is currently negotiating other aspects of its contract with Mesa.

More: Pilots at American Airlines’ regional airlines will see a massive pay increase

The move by Mesa comes as a pilot shortage is acutely impacting the regional airline industry and driving airlines to increase pay in order to compete for a smaller pool of pilots. Things have gotten particularly bleak for regional airlines during the COVID-19 pandemic, as pilots at larger mainline carriers took buyouts and early retirement packages, leaving a large void of pilots for the airlines to fill. Regional airlines haven't been able to compete with the majors as easily in recruiting talent.

"There's no fundamental flaw to this business beyond this pilot shortage," Ornstein said on the call.

Earlier this week, pilots at another United Express carrier, CommutAir, received a pay bump as well, though it now falls far below the new rates at Mesa.

TPG reached out to Mesa for comment and will update this story when we hear back.

Featured image by ALEX TAI/SOPA IMAGES/LIGHTROCKET VIA GETTY IMAGES
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

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  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
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  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023