The chart above shows the count of pilot retiring by age 65(mandated by Federal Regulations) for each airline by each year. American Airlines has the highest count of pilot retirements than its competitors. Its highest count is 941 in year 2025. Delta Air Lines has its highest count in year 2022 at 780 pilots. United Airlines has its retirement peak at 727 in year 2028.
American Airlines has the highest average count of pilot retirements at 539 pilots per year on average. Alaska Airlines has the lowest average count of 53 pilots per year. The two cargo carriers, Fedex and UPS, each has an average of 191 pilots per year and 154 pilots per year, respectively. (Something to keep in mind is that the data available for UPS only goes up to 2033. The data for Southwest Airlines goes all the way to 2052.)
From the chart above, what we don’t know is how accurate the current count for 2020 is. As many airlines have offered early retirement packages, the number of pilots that have submitted their requests for early retirements and the number that got approved have not been published.
However, if you look at the data even during pre-covid time, American Airlines still had the highest attrition through pilot retirements. The big three legacy airlines had the highest pilot retirement numbers during pre-covid time.
This is an important data as many airlines are offering and pushing for their senior pilots to take the early out programs. Will many senior pilots take up on the early retirement deal? Will it be enough to save jobs for junior pilots? That is an ongoing debate.
Here’s another chart for better visibility in different lighting.