Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Key words

Pilot Turnover, Airline Costs, Labor Costs, Labor Turnover


Controlling costs is a critical ingredient in achieving profitability in the airline industry. Typically, labor costs are the first or second highest cost category for airlines. Some components of labor costs, such as pay and benefits, are easy to calculate. Turnover costs, however, are not easy to calculate, and are often underestimated. This paper builds a model for examining turnover costs for pilots in Part 135 carriers, and tests the model empirically in a Part 135 carrier. The model provides a framework to assist airlines in estimating turnover costs for pilots. The case study of a Part 135 cargo operator showed that the turnover rate for pilots was 46%, compared to the average across all jobs and all industries of 15%. Pilot turnover costs for the carrier were shown to be $17,405, compared to the average across all jobs and all industries of $13,996. Per capita turnover costs for the carrier represent 43% of the average pilot’s salary of $40,000. This information can be used by airlines to make cost benefit judgments about retention efforts.

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