Delta Air Lines said it will hire 300 pilots starting in November, its first pilot hiring since 2010.
Atlanta-based Delta will add 50 pilots per month from November 2013 through January 2014, then about 20 per month through September 2014. Some of the pilots will be based in Atlanta, where Delta has its largest hub.
Delta will take applications through Airlineapps.com.
Pilots who were previously furloughed will have first dibs on the positions, but not all are expected to return. About 200 are on the furlough list, and Delta expects its first 50 hires will likely come from that list.
Pilots from Delta Connection carriers Compass and Endeavor Air (formerly Pinnacle Airlines) are expected to fill some of the positions, along with experienced pilots from elsewhere, such as other regional carriers and the U.S. military.
“We’re looking for leaders and decision makers” who can “still be part of a team,” said Steve Dickson, Delta’s senior vice president of flight operations.
Dickson said the numbers will be adjusted over the next 10 to 12 months to reflect staffing needs.
One reason Delta needs more pilots is because of retirements. It’s been more than five years since the federal age limit for commercial passenger airline pilots was raised from 60 to 65, meaning those pilots who deferred retirement at that time must soon step down.
Amid discussion nationally of a potential pilot shortage, Dickson said: “I certainly don’t see a shortage here (at Delta) for some time.” He said the airline also considers how a potential pilot shortage could affect its regional carrier partners.