Dayton’s PSA Airlines offers FedEx and UPS pilots $250,000 bonus to join

Airline industry has shortage of pilots; PSA said last year that 25 of its planes were grounded due to pilot and crew shortages

Upping the ante in its quest for skilled pilots, Dayton-based PSA Airlines’ corporate parent has offered $250,000 signing bonuses to experienced UPS and FedEx pilots who are willing to work as captains.

American Airlines, the company that owns PSA as a regional carrier, is extending the offer to pilots who have the skills and experience to serve as flight captains.

The offer includes an “experience bonus” of $250,000, via $175,000 paid in a first paycheck and $75,000 paid at a one-year work anniversary. Included are hotel expenses up to $250 per month for eligible commuters and starting wages of $150 to $217 per hour.

“A regional captain shortage across the industry remains, but American continues to play a leadership role in combatting the issue,” American said in a memo on the issue shared with the Dayton Daily News. “In fact, American was the first airline to take steps to address the shortage by increasing pilot pay at Envoy, Piedmont and PSA, which play vital roles in supporting our regional network.”

“Regional flying is essential to our global network, but we continue to face a captain shortage that has impacted our ability to fully utilize our regional fleet,” Heather Garboden, American senior vice president of regionals and cargo, said in the memo.

She added: “This program will offer a competitive package to attract experienced pilots and ultimately help restore critical service to small- and medium-sized communities across our network.”

The Dayton Daily News has requested an interview with Dion Flannery, president of PSA. Questions about the bonuses were sent to PSA’s vice president of talent management.

“Given the softness in air cargo demand across the industry and current FedEx flight operations staffing levels, we shared information about this unique opportunity with our pilots,” a FedEx representative said in a statement to this newspaper, referring to the PSA signing bonuses. “FedEx and American Airlines have had a good relationship for many years, and their recognition of the quality of our crew force is clear in this recruitment initiative that provides FedEx pilots an additional career path opportunity.”

Not all companies took the same approach.

“Our pilots are an important part of providing outstanding service to our customers,” Michelle Polk, a spokeswoman for UPS, told the Dayton Daily News. “We do not have any agreement with PSA Airlines and have not suggested that our pilots contact them.”

It’s no secret that PSA and other airlines — particularly smaller, regional carriers — are in need of qualified pilots.

Last year, Flannery told this newspaper that PSA had more than 25 planes grounded because the Dayton-based airline lacked the pilots or crew to fly them.

Asked if he could fly those planes if he had the personnel, Flannery said at that time: “100%.”

The 25-plus airplanes that PSA was routinely not flying — kept either in short-term shortage or serving as operating spares — were a lot, Flannery said then. Those planes represented lease and maintenance costs.

“We have 130 airplanes in our fleet,” he said. “We would prefer to be flying the vast majority of those.”

In August 2021, PSA said it offered “the most lucrative and stable path to the world’s largest airline.”

At the time, PSA said its pilots could earn up to $187,500 in bonuses for their commitment to PSA and guaranteed “flow” or career path to American.

“This unmatched compensation structure is the most valuable in the industry and is an important step in ensuring PSA attracts and retains the best talent in the industry,” PSA said then.

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