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Avelo Airlines raises pilot pay amid Delaware hiring

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Avelo Airlines Wilmington Delaware Airport pilot pay

Avelo Airlines is increasing its pilot pay between 10% and 20% to attract more pilots to the Wilmington Airport, with aims to double their headcount. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

NEW CASTLE – Avelo Airlines, the ultra-low-cost commercial carrier that has found success in revitalizing Wilmington Airport this year, announced Tuesday that it is raising pay for its pilots and seeking to add more jobs in Delaware.

The new pay hike, effective Nov. 1, will reach an hourly rate that reportedly exceeds all regional carriers and most competing ultra-low-cost-carriers. It is the fifth pay increase for Avelo pilots since the airline first took flight in April 2021.

The new pay rates, which increased between 10% and 20% depending on years of service, start at $240 per hour for a captain and $131 for a first officer. They max out at $298 an hour for a captain and $201 for a first officer, both at year 12. The airline also offers an incentive of 125% when pilots fly 75 hours or more in a month and flies desirable same-day flights so pilots can return home each night.

Avelo currently employs 10 pilots who fly two planes out of Wilmington Airport (ILG) right now, and the carrier aims to hire at least 10 more, a company spokesperson told Delaware Business Times. It has flown to 14 destinations already, and is preparing to serve Puerto Rico and Sarasota, Fla.

Nearly 170 pilots are employed by Avelo, which is based in Houston but has presences on both the West and East Coasts with 44 destinations. Next year, Avelo expects to add at least five additional Boeing 737NGs to its current 16-aircraft fleet and open a new state-of-the-art Pilot and Flight Attendant Training Center in Orlando.

Avelo Airlines CEO Andrew Levy

Avelo Airlines CEO Andrew Levy is an airline industry veteran who has built the startup on a strategy of serving smaller airports like Wilmington. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

“The pay increase we are announcing today, combined with the other exceptional benefits and quality of life Avelo offers, will continue to make Avelo a very attractive destination for pilots. Our pilots play a critical role in Avelo’s future, and we look forward to welcoming many more of these outstanding aviation professionals to our airline in the months and years ahead,” Avelo Airlines Chairman and CEO Andrew Levy said in a statement.

The airline industry has an aging pilot workforce that faces mandatory retirement, fewer pilots exiting the military, and barriers to entry, including the cost of training, according to consulting firm Oliver Wyman.

Ultra-low-cost carriers like Avelo also face competition for pilots from larger national carriers like American, United and Delta airlines, all of which negotiated significant pay increases with their unionized pilots. With Philadelphia International Airport, Baltimore-Washington International Airport and other larger regional airports within an hour’s drive from Delaware, competition for talent also increases.

Avelo is one of the few remaining U.S. airlines to operate without a unionized pilot group, as the Air Line Pilots Association already negotiates with competitors like Frontier, Spirit and Breeze airlines along with the largest airlines. Last year, Avelo faced its first unionization effort from flight attendants by the Association of Flight Attendants, but the matter is still being adjudicated.

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