With major airlines citing pilot shortfalls for cancelled flights, foreign pilots see a chance to restart their careers in the United States.
Pilot shortages have been reported by United Airlines, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and JetBlue. There aren't enough pilots to meet demand because many have gone on furlough or left the industry during the pandemic.
Mainline airlines are recruiting staff from regional carriers, enticing them away with higher salaries and appealing sign-on bonus.
Due to pilot shortages, regional carrier SkyWest Airlines, which runs flights for Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and United Airlines, announced in March that it would be terminating 29 government-subsidized routes.
The US Department of Transport (DOT) intervened and issued an order prohibiting SkyWest from terminating flights until a replacement carrier was found.
According to Reuters, US immigration lawyers are fielding an influx of enquiries and visa applications from pilots located in countries whose traffic is still rebounding from pandemic recessions.
According to a Reuters source, Schaffert has received over 8,000 applications for consultations in the last few months and is now examining over 2,000 resumes from pilots looking to move to the United States. This is roughly twice as much as she was getting before the pandemic.
According to other reports, queries are coming in from Australia, Canada, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Pilots from Russia who have nowhere else to go have also enquired about chances in the United States.
The Air Line Pilots Association, the world's largest pilot union with almost 61,000 members, has never heard of a pilot shortage.