Mesa Air invests in training programs to mitigate pilot shortage (NASDAQ:MESA)


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Mesa Airlines (NASDAQ:MESA) announced plans to curb a pilot shortage and increase the size of its training fleet on Thursday.

The Phoenix-based carrier said that it is buying 29 new Pipistrel Alpha Trainer Pro aircraft immediately, with options for 75 more to jumpstart its training programs. The purchases of training equipment under the “Mesa Development Program” is aimed at helping “pilots overcome the high cost ($250k+) and time (2 to 3 years) it takes to earn an ATP certificate to fly commercial passenger airlines.”

Namely, the FAA’s lengthy required training times were cited as a factor hampering hiring activity. The criticism of the 1500 hour rule comes only days after a proposal from Republic Airways to cut the required training time was rejected.

“The pilot shortage could become a permanent feature of the airline industry if we don’t get

more aviators into the system,” CEO Jonathan Ornstein said. “It is basic math. If there aren’t enough trained pilots, customers suffer from loss of service and high-ticket prices.”

Under the training program, qualified pilots will be offered up to 40 hours of flight time each week, receive flight benefits, and priority status for employment as a First Officer at Mesa Airlines. Flight costs will be “fully financed” by Mesa Air (MESA).

“Without action now, the U.S. air travel system may be snarled for the next decade. The stakes are high for both passengers and the U.S. economy,” Ornstein concluded. “Mesa’s Pilot Development program is an example of the private sector working to solve the

challenges created by new regulations.”

Shares of Mesa Air Group (MESA) rose 2.07% in premarket trading. Textron (TXT), the parent company of the Pipistrel aircraft on order, were flat prior to Thursday’s open.

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