Feb. 22, 2022

Compensation isn’t the only thing that draws prospective employees, but it plays a big role in attracting and retaining business aviation professionals, according to experts on a recent NBAA News Hour webinar.

“You have to pay them enough, or they will leave,” said Christopher Broyhill, CAM. member of NBAA’s Business Aviation Management Committee. “Everyone in our industry has an airline problem, whether your employee is going directly to an airline, or moving to another Part 91 operator who lost their employee to the airlines.”

A key takeaway from the webinar, “Your 2022 Compensation Plan – Hear From the Experts,” which was moderated by Jo Damato, CAM, NBAA senior vice president, education, training and workforce development., is that many Part 91 pilots are leaving business aviation to fly for Part 121 operators – often for the greater predictability of salaries, schedules and long-term incentives.

Not only that, but many flight departments are losing pilots to other Part 91 operators who are offering more compensation, since the highly competitive pilot market is allowing pilots to say, “Show me the money,’” said Broyhill.

Sheryl Barden, CAM, president and CEO of Aviation Personnel International, emphasized the importance of educating human resources (HR) colleagues about pay levels, the extensive training needed just to become pilots and maintenance technicians and other concerns unique to business aviation.

“Flight department leadership has to drive that,” said Barden. “Educating HR is key to being able to move the needle, especially when it comes to compensation.”

Barden also encouraged employers to focus on quality of life and other less tangible benefits, but acknowledged that retention bonuses may be necessary. “Don’t wait until the end of 2022,” she said. “Your staff needs to see that if they leave, they will leave money on the table.”

NBAA partners annually with BDO USA to produce the NBAA Compensation Survey, which provides participants with a comprehensive picture of aviation department makeup, key benefits, policies and compensation packages for their employees. Judy Canavan of BDO noted that all industries, not just aviation, are losing employees due to the “Great Resignation,” and that employers must think about other rewards related to employment, not just compensation.

“Even though many salaries are increasing, inflation is causing buying power to decrease,” she said.

Canavan encouraged attendees to participate in the 2022 NBAA compensation survey, which opens in March. “It’s so important to have quality data to show HR,” she noted.

Learn more about the NBAA Compensation Survey.