Fledging budget airline Breeze Airways has its own plan to solve the global pilot shortage.
And hire them from Australia.
At a time when the pilot shortage is either here or not far off, Breeze has increased its hourly wage for pilots and is also recruiting pilots under the E-3 Visa Program, according to Business Insider.
The program is a joint effort between the United States and Australia in which Australian citizens who work in what is considered a specialty occupation - like a pilot - are allowed to work in the U.S. without restriction or income limits.
The program was signed into law by then President George W. Bush in 2005.
According to Business Insider, Breeze - with veteran CEO and JetBlue founder David Neeleman at the controls - has been able to hire quite a bit during the pandemic era and is still actively looking for nearly 300 more pilots.
As of this month, the low-cost carrier upped the pay for pilots, who earn varying rates depending on the type of equipment they fly. For instance, first-year pay on Airbus-manufactured planes is $68 per flight hour at Breeze while pilots operating a smaller Embraer get $61 per hour.
"The reason for that was the overwhelming feedback that we received back from the pilots," Christopher Owens, Breeze's vice president of flight operations, told Insider. "Their three top priorities were: pay rates, pay rates, and pay rates."
Australian pilots can come to the U.S. under the E-3 program as long as they have a verifiable job offer.
"It's an opportunity to give good, hardworking, well-qualified folks jobs who want to live in the US [and] want to be a pilot for a US airline," Owens said.
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