How Much Are Avelo Airlines Pilots Paid?

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Update: The original story was based on incorrect pay rates that had been published online. The story has been updated to reflect the accurate pay rates, which are more reasonable.


Avelo Airlines is a US airline startup that will be launching flights tomorrow, initially flying from Burbank to 11 outdoor destinations with a fleet of Boeing 737-800s.

Breeze Airways is another US airline startup, and I had written a while back about how poorly the airline plans to pay its pilots. With Avelo Airlines pilot pay rates having been published online, I figured it would be interesting to look at that as well.

Avelo Airlines’ pay for pilots

Before we get into the details of Avelo Airlines’ pay for pilots, and compare it to pay at other airlines, note that:

  • Pilots generally get paid for flight hours; the hourly rate might seems high, but pilots aren’t getting paid for anywhere close to 40 hours per week of work
  • Pay varies depending on whether you’re captain or first officer, and each year your pay typically increases, up to a certain cap
  • Pilots can fly no more than 1,000 hours per year, but most pilots don’t even fly close to that much

With that out of the way, let’s look at Avelo Airlines’ pilot pay. First officers will be paid:

  • $55/hour in the first year
  • $85/hour in the second year
  • $90/hour in the third year
  • $100/hour in the fourth year

Meanwhile captains will be paid:

  • $130/hour in the first year
  • $135/hour in the second year
  • $140/hour in the third year
  • $145/hour in the fourth year

In other words, at absolute most, first officers will be paid ~$55,000 the first year, while captains will be paid ~$130,000 the first year. And in reality it’s likely to be way less than that, since few pilots reach the 1,000 hour cap. As you can see, the pay increases drastically the second year for first officers, while it increases marginally for captains.

Avelo Airlines will launch operations tomorrow

How does this compare to pay at other airlines?

Just to compare Avelo Airlines’ pay to that at other airlines, let’s look at a few other pay scales for US airlines operating 737s:

  • Sun Country’s 737 first officers earn $52/hour in the first year and $92/hour in the fourth year, and 737 captains earn $116/hour in the first year and $138/hour in the fourth year
  • Delta’s 737 first officers earn $92/hour in the first year and $168/hour in the fourth year, and 737 captains earn $261/hour in the first year and $267/hour in the fourth year
  • Southwest’s 737 first officers earn $84/hour in the first year and $150/hour in the fourth year, and 737 captains earn $241/hour in the first year and $250/hour in the fourth year

Just to compare pay to that at some airlines that don’t operate 737s:

  • Allegiant is probably the lowest cost carrier you’ll find in the US, and first officers earn $57/hour in the first year and $116/hour in the fourth year, and captains earn $163/hour in the first year and $184/hour in the fourth year
  • SkyWest is a regional airline that flies Embraer 170s, and first officers earn $46/hour in the first year and $58/hour in the fourth year, and captains earn $75/hour in the first year and $81/hour in the fourth year
  • Breeze will fly Embraer 190s and is the other major US airline startup, and first officers earn $55/hour in the first year and $83/hour in the fourth year, and captains earn $117/hour in the first year and $133/hour in the fourth year

Other US airlines pay 737 pilots way more

Is Avelo Airlines’ pilot pay reasonable?

Avelo Airlines’ pay scale seems fair, all things considered:

  • Avelo’s pay scale is similar to Sun Country’s, and even a bit better, which seems fair enough
  • One positive is that if you take a job at a new airline and it’s successful and grows, you’ll have the highest seniority, so these pilots will have a lot of flexibility in the future
  • Something that’s either a positive or negative, depending on how you look at it, is that pilots will be home most nights, since the airline is just operating direct turns from Burbank to other airports
  • One major negative is that pilots will have limited opportunities to practically live in other cities and commute, given that all flights are out of Burbank; living in Los Angeles isn’t exactly cheap
  • This seems like fair starting pay, though I suspect over time Avelo Airlines will have to increase pilot pay, especially as pilots will likely eventually be looking to unionize, and will have more ability to negotiate

So while Avelo Airlines’ pilot pay isn’t industry leading, it seems fair given the current environment, and for that matter I think it seems more reasonable than Breeze’s pay.

Avelo Airlines’ 737s have 189 seats

Bottom line

It’s always fascinating to see the approach that airline startups take to hiring pilots. In some ways this is a good time to start an airline, given the low cost to acquire planes, and general opportunities to gain market share.

As far as Avelo Airlines’ pilot pay goes, it seems fairly reasonable, given the situation. Pay is similar to Sun Country’s 737 pilots, but then again, Los Angeles is a more expensive place to live than Minneapolis.

I’m sure over time pay at the airline will be increasing for pilots, but this seems like a fair place to start.

What do you make of Avelo Airlines’ pilot pay?

Comments
  1. Hi Ben!

    I was living in ATL when Valuejet started. I believe flight deck crew were not paid if they didn’t complete the day.

    This doesn’t answer this question, but a lot of good numbers to compare from 1996 vs other airline costs. Interesting tidbit from the article, United paid $5 for every 1000 miles flown per Pax towards food!

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1996/05/27/discount-airline-fares-how-valujet-cuts-costs/ce56f142-0086-4d01-94ae-246bcefeaedf/

    Didn’t mean to hijack the thread 🙂

  2. Would love if you would consider making a more spreadsheet style comparison with all those numbers, would really increase the overview:)

  3. Fair? Are you kidding me?
    You get what you pay for.
    Most us pilots at the main three /southwest are navy pilots…
    OH well, cheap gets cheap.

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