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American Airline pilot’s salaries vary with the amount of relative time, or seniority, that a pilot has been employed at a particular company. The second thing that affects how an American pilot will be paid, especially on international routes, will be what level of qualification the pilot has achieved. A Captain, or aircraft commander, will be paid more than the First Officer, co-pilot, on any scheduled airline flight.
American Legacy Pilots
Today’s “legacy” American pilot is categorized as one who flies for the companies: American, Delta, United, Continental, and U.S. Airways. These legacy pilots will fly the routes that are long-haul international from a domestic airport in the United States. These flights are flown using long-haul Boeing and Airbus Aircraft.
Legacy Pilot Salary
Legacy Captains will average $170,000/ year while the First Officer will average $114,000/year. This is based on median numbers from the current seniority lists at a legacy carrier. Most legacy carriers have very senior pilots, as this is the coveted job in the airline industry.
The Major and Regional Airlines
The second grouping of international pilots revolves around the Major and Regional U.S. Airlines that service international destinations on a routine basis. These companies are categorized major or regional based on their average annual gross passenger revenue. Companies such as Express Jet and Compass Airlines will fly international service to Mexico and Canada under a Legacy Airline’s name.
Major and Regional Pilot Pay
Major and Regional international Captains will average $72,000/year while a First Officer will average $40,000/year. These pilots fly aircraft that are limited to a maximum of 76 seats and are much smaller than the large long-haul aircraft that the legacy carriers will utilize.
Differences In Pay
The reality is that both sets of legacy and regional airline pilots are still responsible for people’s lives, and the discrepancy between the two pilot group’s salaries is potentially alarming. Today's modern aircraft are equally as sophisticated when it comes to technology and complexity. Each pilot base is also required to have the same professional licenses and certifications to fly all types of aircraft.