Private Jet Charter Industry Feels the Effects of Pilot Shortage

Growing demand for skilled pilots felt across all aviation sectors

June 5, 2018 Stratos Jet Charters
The private jet charter industry is feeling the effects of a pilot shortage

Whenever you step aboard a private jet charter, you can always count on a warm greeting from the pilot (two if you’re flying with Stratos Jet Charters). They’ll even help you with your baggage and get you comfortably settled onboard before whisking you away to your chosen destination. But our industry is facing a very real problem these days: there aren’t enough pilots to go around at the moment.

This disturbing trend is being felt in both the commercial and business aviation communities. It begs the question: where have all the pilots gone? The shortage can be attributed to a number of factors:

  • Fewer students choosing aviation as a career
  • Increased consumer demand for air travel, both commercial and private
  • Thousands of pilots furloughed during the recession of 2008-09
  • Many experienced pilots are retiring, or will retire soon
  • Tighter regulations regarding pilot training

The increased demand for air travel across all sectors, coupled with the lack of people taking up piloting as a career, are the two primary drivers of this shortage. While many airlines have since recalled pilots that were furloughed from a decade ago, many have left the industry to pursue different career paths.

This pilot shortfall is already being felt by many smaller regional airlines, as well as low-cost carriers, that are being forced to amend their services and operations, including:

  • Cancelling select flights/routes
  • Selling off aircraft
  • Suspend operations indefinitely

In some cases, regional airlines are replacing smaller, lower-occupancy aircraft in their fleets with ones with larger seating capacities in order to maximize the number of passengers they can transport with their available pilots.

Commercial Airline Recruitment Ramping up

The private jet charter industry is feeling the effects of a pilot shortageMajor commercial airlines in the United States are hiring at a rate not seen since before 9/11. They are competing with one another to hire—and more importantly, retain—whatever talent is available.

Where they could once select the most experienced and skilled pilots to fill vacancies, they are now being forced to lower their standards. In a bid to boost personnel numbers, many major airlines are actively trying to pry pilots away from the private jet charter sector and smaller regional operators. They are successfully able to do this by offering a combination of:

  • Increased salaries
  • Predictable schedules
  • Better retirement benefits

It’s difficult to blame them for this tactic. By enticing business aviation pilots to work for them, commercial airlines know they’re getting a highly trained employee.

Most private operators require their pilots to meet the highest standards for experience and training. In fact, many private jet pilots start out as commercial airline pilots before joining the jet charter industry. Further to that, at Stratos Jet Charters, we require the operators we work with to meet our own safety criteria. For example, Pilots in Command must have:

  • ATP (Airline Transport Pilot) License
  • Minimum of 3,000 hours of total flight time
  • 1,500 hours as the Captain

First Officers must also meet stringent training requirements.

To learn more about pilot training, read our post: Business Jet Pilots: Why Time in Type Matters for Air Charter Safety.

Now, the trend is reversing, as the airlines, recognizing the need for more pilots, are offering better pay and incentives. The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), drawing on results from its annual Compensation Survey, published an article comparing the salaries of commercial airline and business aircraft pilots. Depending on the size and type of aircraft, a senior captain flying a business jet in 2017 earned between $106, 536 and $176,288. According to the Allied Pilots Association, an American Airlines pilot earned between $239,363 and 298,972, depending in the size of aircraft.

As you would expect, having to pay higher salaries to hire and retain pilots will affect any company’s bottom line. This will only serve to increase the cost of air travel, as the extra expense will be transferred to the consumer.

However, it’s worth noting that pilot salaries represent only fraction of a charter operator’s overall expenses, the largest of which is fuel.

Benefits of Piloting a Private Jet CharterThe private jet charter industry is feeling the effects of a pilot shortage

With the higher rates of pay and benefits packages, you’d think that every pilot would want to work for an airline. Obviously, this isn’t the case. There are a few factors that often go overlooked when comparing piloting for an airline versus business aviation.

One of the most important is the aircraft themselves. In general, most private jets, especially modern ones, are easier to fly due to their advanced avionics systems. This, in turn, makes for a less stressful work environment.

Furthermore, smaller business jets are able to access smaller airports, giving pilots an opportunity to visit different destinations. And because the customer chooses the route, you’re always flying along new flight paths. So, if you like a little variety in your life, piloting a private jet charter might be the way to go.

Another point worth considering is that many charter flights occur during daylight hours and are relatively short in duration. Depending on the size and range of the aircraft you’re flying, a pilot will often be able to return home at the end of the day. A good example of this would be if a pilot were to fly a group of business executives to an out-of-town meeting, and then return them home the same day.

Looking to the Future

According to the Boeing Pilot Outlook 2017, North America will require an additional 117,000 new pilots over the next 20 years to keep up with expected demand. That figure doesn’t include the private jet charter industry.

To put that into perspective, according to 2017 U.S. Civil Airmen Statistics provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there are currently 159,825 ATP-certified pilots in the United States. That it 57.7 per cent of what the Boeing report indicates the airline industry will require by 2036.

As airline carriers increase their services and expand their fleets to accommodate the growing demand of consumers, pilots will become more sought after than ever before. This trend will be mirrored in the private sector as the number of operators and brokers increases. If you’re looking for a career that provides a good income and job stability, piloting is certainly worth considering.

A Global Issue

This pilot shortage isn’t just limited to the US. The lack of qualified commercial pilots is a global issue, and the Boeing report estimates that an additional 637,000 pilots will be required worldwide to meet the growing demand. The Asia-Pacific region will experienced the highest demand, requiring an estimated 253,000 pilots over the next two decades.

Attracting New Pilots to Private Aviation

In order to claim their fair share of new pilots, private aviation needs to be more proactive in reaching out. This includes not only those who have already chosen aviation as a career, but also individuals who are entering the workforce, but have yet to decide on a career path.

This starts with letting today’s youth know that good-paying jobs exist in the jet charter industry. That means developing outreach programs where industry leaders visit places of education and make them aware of the career opportunities that await them in our field. This includes:

  • Elementary and high schools
  • Aviation colleges
  • Technical schools
  • Colleges and universities

Fly with confidence when you book a private jet charter with Stratos Jets. We conduct third-party safety audits on every charter flight we arrange, and we only work with operators with pilots that are trained to the highest standards. For more information, or to begin planning your next trip, call us toll-free at888-593-9066, or start a quote online.

Private Jet Services in 2017: A Year in Review

From emergency flights and soaring demand to crashes, broker criminals & new jets, 2017 was an eventful year in the private jet services industry.

December 27, 2017 Stratos Jet Charters

There were horrifying floods and hurricanes, a man operating and illegal private jet services brokerage, and a baseball hero who crashed the plane he was flying and died. There was incredible demand, perhaps more than ever, for private jet flights. New planes and new technology making it easier to find the best and best-priced jet charter flights. And in the middle of it all, in 2017, was us—a charter broker company that had just celebrated a 10th anniversary and a renewed commitment to focusing on safety above all else, especially as new kids with less expertise entered the field.

With just a few days left in 2017, Stratos Jet Charters reflects on the private aviation events that stood out this year.

1. Private Jet Services for Emergency Flights

It was nothing short of chaotic. As turbulent winds peeled across the Caribbean Sea, tearing apart communities in Puerto Rico and Antigua before heading toward Florida, families called frantically asking for help to get their loved ones out of the path of Maria and Irma.

Airports quickly began to run out of both planes and fuel.

We were as determined as ever. We pulled in aircraft from distant states—Kansas and Kentucky, to name a few. We called on operators we’ve known for years and scheduled flights at local airports just before they closed. We found fuel. If we were ‘scrambling,’ our clients didn’t know it.

emergency evacuation private jets

In the end, it was a trying but rewarding time, and we realized this was an incredible opportunity to make use of our networks and our knowledge to coordinate emergency flights and get people to safety.

Here is just one of the post-storm reviews that captures the chaos and gratitude of that time:

We decided at the last minute to escape from Florida as hurricane Irma was bearing down on us, and Stratos came through for us. Despite our first choice airport running out of fuel, they managed to get some at another and we got out with about 1 hour to spare. It was a hectic time, with everyone else scrambling to escape, but Stratos made the whole experience simple and efficient for us. We will definitely fly with them another time, preferable when we’re not all stressed about a hurricane aimed right at us! — Hobie L.

Post-storm, it was unfortunate to later hear about the experiences of other people who used less-experienced private jet services for emergency evacuations, and did not have a good experience.

We hope Florida and the Caribbean never sees another Irma or Maria, but if we do, we look forward to doing what we do best to support emergency evacuations.

Learn more about how Stratos worked to evacuate families during Irma and Maria.

2. Private Jet Rental Demand Soared in 2017

It was one of the surprises of 2017 for the business aviation and private jet services industry, to be sure. Private jet rental bookings were on the rise. And not just that, but the bigger the better.

In fact, we began to see operators become selective about the trips the accepted because there was so much demand.

Some of the private jet services trends we saw this year included:

  • Increase in requests for Gulfstream and comparable large aircraft, and more demand for mid and super mid-size aircraft


  • Optimism in the business community fuelling demand, and by a vast cross-section of industries and organizations, not necessarily Fortune 500 communities at all


  • Friday and Sunday the busiest travel days, pointing to people commuting at the end and beginning of the work week


  • At Stratos in particular, more new clients year over year, and a strong mix of new and repeat clients booking trips as well as an increase in revenue


  • Operators became so selective about bookings that two-hour daily minimums had become standard again


3. Stunning New Private Jets

If 2017 was anything in private aviation, it was the year a number of stars took the skies. Here’s a list of the newly released aircraft we and our clients were most excited about:

  • Gulfstream G500
  • Bombardier Global 7000
  • Pilatus PC-24
  • Embraer Phenom 300E
  • Cessna Citation Longitude

The Bombardier Global 7000 has just made the skies more comfortable as an addition to the line up of aircraft used in private jet services.

Learn more and view them for yourself in our post 5 New Private Jets Taking the Skies By Storm.

4. Crashes & Criminals

Did you hear about the Fort Lauderdale man accused of operating an illegal charter air-carrier service and falsifying certification records? According to an article in the Sun Sentinel, in December Robert Charles Brady was charged with 56 counts of wire fraud, filing false records and operating an aircraft without an airman’s certificate” as owner of Beach Aviation.

At Stratos, it was a reminder of why we always confirm the insurance and Part 135 Certificate of our vendors, and it’s why we’re always running operator reports and checks for every single flight. Because we’re obsessed with safety, we also have our own in-house vendor approval program.

2017 was also the year a cherished baseball player—Roy Halladay—died when the plane he was piloting crashed in the Gulf of Mexico. We know it had people—many who don’t use private jet services—wondering, How safe are private jets anyway?

Because we uphold the industry’s highest safety standards, we took this opportunity to discuss the steps we as brokers take to increase your margin of safety and help ensure you arrive safely at your destination. Auditing vendors and crews, as in the above case, is just one of four of the most important steps.

5. Owning a Jet & Needing a Private Jet Business for Management

In 2017, more and more organizations saw the value in stepping from private jet rental bookings to outright ownership for their own use and for income-generating activity. But then organizations take on the task of managing their aircraft and its flights.

Stratos saw an opportunity, and began to guide clients through the process of placing it in service, identifying reputable air carriers to manage the plane, negotiating contacts for appropriate management responsibilities and making recommendations that will help mitigate risks and maximize revenue. Visit our Stratos Jet Management Services page to learn more.

6. We rolled out a new website!

It’s functional. It’s intuitive. And it’s got more of what our clients need, including a handy pricing tool. What this does is give you a reliable and instant estimate of average market value for private jet charter services to your destination.

PLUS, we can then analyze the market and find aircraft with similar positioning needs and bring the price down further. We’re excited to give our clients the chance to use our pricing tool and experience the fun of getting a lower price tag.

In 2018, will you look for a private jet services broker that offers the industry’s highest standards in safety and service? Turn to the charter brokers individuals and organizations have trusted for more than a decade, Stratos Jet Charters. Call 888-593-9066!


How Maria’s Affecting Travel and Charter Flights to Caribbean Islands

While many islands sustained major damage from Hurricane Maria, some charter flights to Caribbean destinations are still available. 

September 26, 2017 Stratos Jet Charters

First Irma and then Maria. The devastation left in the wake of these two Category 4 and 5 hurricanes within the past two weeks has left many Caribbean nations in ruins and without power. The storms have affected the Caribbean’s main economic generator and that is tourism, with restricted travel on charter flights to Caribbean airports, with some flights open only for hurricane relief.

Most affected by Maria have been the eastern Caribbean islands of Puerto Rico, Dominica, Barbuda, St. Maarten and the U.S. Virgin Islands, while some islands, including St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Saint Eustatius and Martinique, were left pretty well unscathed.

Puerto Rico

Of significance is the damage sustained by Luis Munoz Marin Intl Airport (TJSJ) in San Juan, PR, which experienced a flooded terminal as well as power loss. As of this weekend, many commercial flights to TJSJ were cancelled, with only a few departures (Delta) reported on Monday.

As mentioned, some runways have opened at TJSJ to rescue helicopters and private jets to the Caribbean bringing hurricane relief, although long wait times at departing terminals have been reported.

For those hoping to fly on charter flights to Caribbean airports, in particular San Juan, it’s recommended that you check with your airline before heading to the airport.

Other islands affected by the storm

Most flights have also been suspended to Grand Turk JAGS McCartney International Airport (GDT) on the Turks and Caicos Islands as well as flights to Cyril E. King Airport (STT) on St. Thomas and the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport (STX) on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Princess Juliana Airport (SXM) on St. Maarten has also suspended all air travel until further notice and is only being used as a dedicated hub for emergency and evacuation flights.

Islands open for business & charter flights to Caribbean airports

Those who wish to continue with their travel plans can still book private jets to Caribbean nations such as Antigua, St. Kitts and more.

Antigua: V.C Bird International Airport (ANU) is open for business as are a number of popular beach resorts and hotels along the island’s shores. However, the small nation of Barbuda, just 28 miles north of Antigua, did not fare as well and is in ruins due to Hurricane Irma. Many of its hotels have been damaged or destroyed.

Other islands where charter flights to Caribbean airports and resorts are open include:

  • St. Kitts, Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport (SKB)
  • Paradise Island, Nassau, Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA),
  • Anguilla, Clayton Lloyd International Airport (TQPF),
  • Punta Cana Int’l Airport (MDPC), Las Americas (MDSD), Santa Domingo, and all other airports in the Dominican Republic.

For more information on how private jets help storm affected nations, read our article Emergency Flights and Evacuation Flights by Private Jet. 

As an ARGUS certified executive jet charter brokerage, Stratos Jets obsesses over your safety and can handle even the most complicated itineraries and still deliver outstanding experiences for charter flights Caribbean nations and around the world.



All the Leaves Are Falling: Charter Flights to Colonial America

The best places to see the leaves change this fall, and how to get there via charter flights.

September 19, 2017 Stratos Jet Charters

For those in cities like Boston and Philadelphia last fall, the ads were the stuff of cooler talk: People in the south were paying money to have real leaves boxed and sent in the mail. But given their earthy, sun-kissed smell, the bold yet gentle tinges of yellows, oranges and reds, perhaps it’s not so surprising. Perhaps seeing the leaves changes is such a simple yet beautiful thing, it’s worth visiting first-hand via charter flights that will take you to the breathtaking trees and fields of New England this fall.

Top 4 Places to See the Leaves Change this Fall:


By mid-September in Boston, the leaves are already beginning to change from lime green to golden and emerald to maroon,  with the occasional burning ember tree sprinkled in for good measure. It’s definitely something you’ll want to see for yourself.

Top places to see the leaves change:

The Esplanade

This tree-filled park situated along the Charles River resembles a small wildfire when the fall foliage reaches its peak.

Arnold Arboretum

Nearly 5,000 different foliage species make this 256 acre arboretum simply stunning. During the last Sunday of October, you can even sip on cider, take guided tours, and celebrate all things fall at the Boston Fall Foliage Festival.

Mount Auburn Cemetery

Located in the rolling hills just west of Boston, the 175 acres of Mount Auburn cemetery boasts more than 5,000 trees. There’s hills, dells, woodlands, and ponds to explore while taking in the festive foliage decorating the Boston hillside.


Lake Memphremagog

Located on the Canadian border, this peaceful lake is a popular vacation destination. In the fall, when the trees decorating the serene, picturesque lakeside start to change, thousands of leaf-lookers find peace in this stunning scene.

Elmore State Park

This state park features 700 acres of mountainous, tree-filled land. During the fall, Lake Elmore acts as a mirror, turning an idyllic scene into something more magical. Popular with the hiking and camping crowds, this destination is absolutely stunning.

Equinox Pond

914 acres of protected conservation land, rife with trails, ponds, and camp sites, is the perfect backdrop for taking in fall foliage while sipping on hot apple cider and cozying up near the fire under a wool blanket.


Pennypack Park

The Pennypack Park in Northeast Philadelphia offers up nearly 1,600 acres of uninterrupted fall foliage, complete with scattered historic structures, and both paved and unpaved trails.

Independence Hall

One of the most popular spots in Philly is also home to some of the best autumn scenes in the state. The Independence Hall is absolutely stunning when the foliage reaches its peak during the fall season.

Morris Arboretum

Take in more than 12,000 trees and plants while traipsing along paths and trails that wind through this arboretum. It’s definitely one of the best places to catch the vibrant colours of fall in Philly.


Central Park

Obviously at the top of the list, Central Park offers unparalleled views year-round, but they’re definitely at their best during the autumn months.

Washington Square Park

Laze around the central fountain while admiring not only the vibrantly-colored leaves, but also the historic Washington Square Arch at this unique park located in Greenwich Village.

Hudson River Park

Nestled against the Hudson River and stretching from Lower Manhattan to Midtown, this park offers a vast view of the iconic colors that autumn in the City has become famous for.

Are you looking for charter flights to cities where you can see the leaves changing? Our agents are experts at making recommendations and organizing even the most complex itineraries to help you make the most of your time on the ground. Call  or just click here: