does a pilot change airline every X time? or do they stay almost all their life in the same airline?
It really depends on multiple factors, I have heard different things from pilots I know IRL, some of them mention salary or benefits, some mention location and some just want a change of scenery or aircraft. But I also know many pilots who have stayed with an airline for their entire career. Here in Hong Kong most do not stay with Hong Kong’s major airline Cathay Pacific for their entire career, but some do and they are handsomely rewarded for it.
In the US the most typical path, and the one most people strive for is to join a regional airline when they reach the minimum requirements to fly transport category aircraft with an ATP license. These are airlines that fly smaller 50-75 seat aircraft which operate flights for larger airlines under their sub brands like American Eagle, Delta Connect, and United Express. Once they have enough experience to be hired at a “major” they will then begin to apply at larger airlines like American Airlines, Delta, United, and cargo carriers like FedEx, UPS, etc. They will then ideally stay there their entire career to build seniority and move up the ladder but will change aircraft, bases, and upgrade to captain over time.
Keep in mind this the most common path for people going into commercial aviation and only fly civilian. People who go through the military, or take other paths like corporate, certain cargo operations, or many more unique jobs like aerial firefighting, research flying, etc. There are also other paths to end up at a major airline on the passenger side, no two people have the same career but this is the most common template.
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