Frontier Airlines Looking To Hire Foreign Pilots

Frontier Airlines Looking To Hire Foreign Pilots

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With the current pilot shortage in the United States, Frontier Airlines is getting creative with its pilot recruitment, and is looking abroad.

Frontier hiring Australian first officers with E-3 visas

The pandemic has obviously had a major impact on the airline industry. Around two years ago airlines were in a rough spot as demand for air travel plummeted, and many pilots were either furloughed or given early retirement packages. With demand for air travel coming back in full force, airlines now can’t hire enough pilots.

For the most part the legacy carriers are okay, while regional airlines and ultra low cost carriers are in some cases having issues with hiring. Frontier Airlines is addressing this by trying to hire Australian nations who are eligible for the E-3 visa program.

With an E-3 visa, Australian citizens are allowed to work in the United States in specialty occupations. The visa is typically valid for two years, but can be renewed indefinitely.

According to Frontier Airlines’ job posting, the airline is looking for pilots with at least 1,500 hours of total flight time, though 2,500 hours of flight time are preferred. The airline is requesting 750 hours of multi-engine fixed wing time, plus 500 hours as pilot in command.

If in the coming months you’re flying Frontier Airlines and hear a pilot with an Australian accent making an announcement, this might explain why (of course there could also be pilots who aren’t part of this program who still have Australian accents).

Frontier is looking to hire Australian pilots

US regional airlines have done this in the past

While I believe this is a new concept for Frontier Airlines, this isn’t the first time that a US airline has tried to find pilots through the E-3 visa program. Historically we’ve seen regional airlines in the US try to hire pilots this way. I know I’ve been on more than one SkyWest flight where I assumed a pilot may have been working as part of this arrangement, based on the accent.

Ultimately this seems like a win-win:

  • The E-3 visa program is specifically for Australians, so it’s quite easy for pilots to be recruited this way
  • Australia has historically had more pilots than good paying pilot jobs (given how small Australia’s population is), which is why you’ll find so many Australians working as pilots at Gulf carriers, etc.
  • The Australian Dollar is significantly weaker than the US Dollar, so the pay at US airlines is also potentially quite lucrative for someone based in Australia
US regional carriers have hired Australian pilots in the past

I’m always fascinated by ex-pat pilots

When I was a kid I always dreamed of being an airline pilot. Not only that, but I wanted to work for a foreign airline, and in particular Cathay Pacific. I never ended up pursuing that, and I guess that’s for the better, given the state of Hong Kong.

However, to this day I’m always fascinated by the hiring practices of various airlines, and especially how diverse the workforces are at some airlines. At Gulf carriers, Cathay Pacific, etc., you have pilots from all over the globe. I always listen to pilot announcements on this flight not just because I want to know what they’re saying, but so I can guess where they’re from.

But then there are some ex-pat arrangements that might come as a surprise. For example, I flew Kazakstan’s Air Astana several years back, and was surprised to have Mexican pilots. After doing some research, I learned that Air Astana specifically recruits in Mexico, and has tons of pilots from there. How interesting.

Air Astana has lots of ex-pat pilots

I also remember one Hainan Airlines flight I took where the captain had a particularly strong Texas accent. Hah.

Bottom line

US airlines are facing a major pilot shortage, and Frontier Airlines is trying to address that by hiring pilots from Australia under the E-3 visa program. This is something that we’ve seen regional carriers in the US do in the past, but I believe this is the first time that Frontier is doing this. I wonder if this will become a more widespread practice, as many airlines continue to deal with pilot shortages.

What do you make of Frontier’s creative strategy for hiring pilots?

Conversations (26)
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  1. Arturo Guest

    I'm a foreigner, a couple of years before, I did my commercial pilot course in US. Right now I´m working as an instructor or CFI, here in my country. I already have 1600 hrs, a bachelor´s degree and a master´s degree.
    Is there any chance to work as a pilot with Frontier?

  2. Morgan Diamond

    Interesting but I pilot jobs in Australia working for Qantas and VA are pretty good an d I would imagine a lot better than working for a low cost carrier.

  3. Lieflat19 Member

    This is BS. there is no shortage of pilots or those who want to fly. myself included. However the pay is horrendous and unless your 22 fresh out of college, its very difficult to switch careers and get into this field. I would be taking a massive pay cut and it would take 6-7 years to get back to what i make now. I'm not looking to make 200-300k, but im not trying to make...

    This is BS. there is no shortage of pilots or those who want to fly. myself included. However the pay is horrendous and unless your 22 fresh out of college, its very difficult to switch careers and get into this field. I would be taking a massive pay cut and it would take 6-7 years to get back to what i make now. I'm not looking to make 200-300k, but im not trying to make 40k either after switching careers, going into debt or using my savings to get trained. Maybe they should start flight academies and stuff like some other airlines. train them or cover part of it and stipulate in the hiring contact they must work for X amount of years or pay back the cost of training.... they just dont want to pay a fair wage to Americans...

  4. Sarah Coote Guest

    Frontier's best pilot is a Kiwi and he's my brother ♥️

  5. Pedros Guest

    Yes, the Mexican pilots were desired at Air Astana because they never complained about anything and hardly said anything even when safety was engaged, not mentioning the flying skills. Later Air Astana hired lot's of Avianca pilots whose company went bust. The same story..... usually this airlines are not looking for safe pilots but the management is looking for pilots that just do what they want. Foreign pilots are more easy to handle and to...

    Yes, the Mexican pilots were desired at Air Astana because they never complained about anything and hardly said anything even when safety was engaged, not mentioning the flying skills. Later Air Astana hired lot's of Avianca pilots whose company went bust. The same story..... usually this airlines are not looking for safe pilots but the management is looking for pilots that just do what they want. Foreign pilots are more easy to handle and to fire when needed....

    Is the pilot salary really better in the US than in Australia? I am not so sure....

  6. Realist1 Guest

    You have no idea what you are talking about. Pilots are paid handsomely. Their union ensures it.

  7. Robert Martin Guest

    Makes sense to me. My guess would be the USA could get many Mexican pilots if you look at their pay. They make little more than a McDonald's worker so would be happy to work for a US carrier.

  8. Gordon Scott Guest

    See where it goes good idea why Air New Zealand and Qantas have in increased flights coming to the U.S. should be interesting

  9. James Guest

    I had my application for two years and not even a courtesy call at least saying thanks but no thanks. And there is a pilot shortage sure.

  10. You name it Guest

    Frontier is the worst airline company that exists!

  11. Robert Guest

    How much do you pay a new pilot?

  12. Mark Guest

    Expat--from expatriate.

    I have had American pilots on many small international airlines in the past. I wonder if they have moved back to the US since the current shortage.

  13. Regina Guest

    There is not a pilot shortage. Low cost carriers are not sustainable. Frontier can't keep up with inflation, and wants to import labor. Soon legacy carriers and pilots union will come after this BS!

    1. Mo Guest

      You DON'T know what you're talking about! USA is facing the highest levels of pilot shortage ever! Some flight are grounded cause there's no enough pilots! Either low cost (as you wrongly mentioned) ou national carriers.

    2. Regina Guest

      Negative. Independent regionals and low cost carriers are the ones struggling. Pilots aim to apply for wholly owned carriers that offer a decent pay , with a flow through program to mainline. Pay well , and problem solve. 29 usd tickets are JOKE.

  14. jotlaptop New Member

    Does this apply to NZ pilots as well? I know an NZ pilot recently cashiered from Qatar.

  15. Creditian Guest

    E3 is not allowed to apply greed card, no one wants to work for low paid carrier for years.

  16. Charlie D Guest

    There is no pilot shortage, just a shortage of pilots willing to work for less than they could earn flipping burgers at Wendy’s. They wouldn’t be bleeding pilots left and right if they paid them well. This is just a way for Regionals and other carriers to avoid having to pay their pilots a real market wage. Outsourcing isn’t exactly a new idea.

    1. Hudson Guest

      Frontier first officers make $150+k per year and captains top $350-400k. You call this “low pay”?

    2. Jeff Guest

      Lol. Not even close. I work for Frontier. Nice try though

  17. betterbub Gold

    "Requirements:... Ability to relocate"

    One would definitely hope so

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Charlie D Guest

There is no pilot shortage, just a shortage of pilots willing to work for less than they could earn flipping burgers at Wendy’s. They wouldn’t be bleeding pilots left and right if they paid them well. This is just a way for Regionals and other carriers to avoid having to pay their pilots a real market wage. Outsourcing isn’t exactly a new idea.

1
Icarus Guest

Racist idiot

1
Sir Digby Chicken Caesar Guest

That’s very distasteful, you should be ashamed of yourself

1
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