National Pilot Shortage Impacts Northern Michigan Aviation Industry

Fewer flights taking to the skies these days because of the aviation industry’s starve for pilots.

Director of Aviation at Northwest Michigan College, Alex Bloye, says, “It’s not just the airlines, it’s the charter groups, the air ambulance everyone is looking for qualified well trained pilots.”

That shortage is trickling down and hitting local companies like Air Services Inc. in Traverse City hard.

The Director of Operations Matt Besaw says in the end, it may cost them. “We have a lot of business people that need to get to places that maybe aren’t served by the airlines and they depend on us to get them where they’re going. If we can’t find the pilots we’re not going to be flying.”

Air Services is raising pay to stay competitive, but increasingly, its biggest asset is nearby Northwestern Michigan College in the new class of aspiring pilots.

Matt Besaw says, “We’re trying to develop relationships with the students at NMC earlier and earlier all the time; it’s a tremendous asset for us to have that.”

The industry’s loss may be the school’s gain.

NMC Aviation Director Alex Bloye says this shortage is the best thing that’s ever happened to his students.

“Finding a job is really easy and really it’s nearly 100 % employment right now for our graduates. They are getting sign on bonuses anywhere from $5,000 to $80,000 plus their regular salary.”

Now, the future of flight all depends on the next generation of flyers, a future that looks sky high.

Alex Bloye says, “For us as educators we’re in a really good position to supply the next generation of pilots.”