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Frontier Hiring Candidates With No Experience, Pilot Shortage

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Image for article titled Frontier Airlines Hiring Candidates With No Flight Experience To Tackle Pilot Shortage

Photo: Daniel Slim/AFP (Getty Images)

It might seem like the easiest solution for the ongoing commercial pilot shortage would be to simply hire more pilots. However, prior decisions by airlines have ensured there isn’t a large pool of qualified candidates left to pluck from. Many carriers offered their employees buyouts and early retirement to downsize during the early height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Those former employees don’t want to return largely due to lackluster pay and substandard working conditions. So, in response, several airlines have launched programs to train and hire candidates with little to no flight experience for employment.

Frontier Airlines’ F9 Pilot Cadet Program is the newest carrier-backed training scheme in the industry. The airline intends to accept 35 candidates per month into the 24-month training program and run in partnership with ATP Flight School. Requirements for applicants are very open: Candidates must be at least 19 years of age, clear a background check, and have a high school diploma — though, an associate’s degree is preferred. Candidates are also required to get financing from ATP for tuition. However, Frontier is offering financial aid to partially offset the cost of training.

Once cadets complete the training program, they will have the necessary certifications and flight experience to take their guaranteed position as a Frontier Airlines first officer. Despite the purchase of Spirit Airlines falling through, the Frontier fleet is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. Frontier has leased enough aircraft from Airbus that the airline’s fleet will triple in size by the decade’s end.

Brad Lambert, Frontier’s Vice President of Flight Operations, said:

“This is an exciting opportunity for anyone who has ever dreamed of becoming a commercial airline pilot. We are putting this program in place to not only train future pilots but to help them overcome the barriers to entry people may encounter when trying to pursue an aviation career. We are thrilled to embark on this journey that will lead us to a new generation of Frontier Airlines pilots.”

Other airlines are taking different routes to try and reach a similar destination. Alaska Airlines is partnering with an Oregon-based flight school to create a pilot pipeline in the Pacific Northwest, the carrier’s home region. Delta Air Lines has partnered with over a dozen universities to recruit students to train to become pilots. United Airlines created its own flight academy based at Phoenix Goodyear Airport with the goal of training 5,000 pilots by the end of the decade.

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