10 Highest Paid Airline Pilots in the World (2024)

Ronnie Gift

Becoming an airline pilot is a highly esteemed profession, allowing individuals to work internationally and experience global exploration. Considering the risks of transporting large numbers of tourists across continents, it is no surprise that airline pilots are financially well-rewarded. Are you curious about the highest-paying airline for pilots in the world? Rest assured; this post aims to address that very question.

The aviation industry presents exceptional opportunities for lucrative careers. Pilots enjoy a range of perks, including luxurious travel experiences, fully covered accommodation, comprehensive medical insurance, flexible schedules, and impressive salaries.

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We have meticulously gathered information to compile a list of the highest-paying airlines in the world. To discover more about this topic, continue reading this article.

How much do pilots make?

Various factors influence the salaries of airline pilots, and like many other professions, experience plays a crucial role. The annual salary of a commercial pilot can significantly increase during the first five years, sometimes tripling. 

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The rate at which you gain flight experience and accumulate flight hours determines how quickly you can attain the salary of an airline captain. Several factors contribute to a pilot’s salary, including:

  • Years of experience
  • Total flight hours
  • Type of aircraft flown
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Pilots have the potential to earn a substantial income. According to Forbes, the average salary for an airline pilot is $174,870, more than triple the average wage across all occupations.

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Thrust Flight also states that airline pilots generally earn more than those in most time-building jobs in the United States. It’s important to note that additional factors may influence the specific income of an individual pilot.

How is a pilot’s salary calculated?

A pilot’s salary is determined by multiplying their hourly rate by the number of flight hours, indicating that they are compensated solely for the time their aircraft is in operation.

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Additionally, pilots receive a per diem, which covers expenses such as food and other costs during their time away from the base.

To illustrate, let’s consider the pay rate for a first officer at Envoy in the first year, which is $105 per hour. If the pilot flies 95 hours a month, their salary for that period would be $9,975.

10 Highest-Paying Airlines in the World for Pilots

Highest paying airline

Here is the list of the highest-paying airlines in the world:

  • Alaska Airline
  • United Airline
  • American Airways
  • Hawaiian Airline
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Qatar Airways
  • Frontier Airlines
  • China Eastern Airlines
  • Westjet
  • Delta Airlines

1. Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines is renowned for being one of the highest-paying airlines worldwide, offering an average annual salary of $194,600. With a history spanning 77 years, it holds the title of the oldest airline company in the United States. As an experienced captain within the company, one can anticipate earning an average of $238,400.

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Current and former pilots at Alaska Airlines also report a generous profit-sharing and bonus program, which has occasionally reached as high as $10,000. For professionals with twelve years of experience, the salary ranges between $225,900 and $266,000.

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2. United Airlines

United Airlines ranks among the highest-paying airlines globally. Established in 1926, it is one of the major carriers in the United States. It is the third-largest airline worldwide in terms of fleet size and route network.

At United Airlines, pilots earn an average salary of $129,664 annually. The most experienced pilots at United have the highest earning potential in the industry, with salaries reaching $308,400 based on available data. Newer pilots can expect to earn approximately $79,800 annually.

United Airlines also offers a bonus program that allows eligible employees to receive additional compensation ranging from $2,500 to $15,000 annually.

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3. American Airlines

American Airlines presents enticing schemes for additional compensation to its pilots, including profit-sharing, cash bonuses, and other benefits. The annual value of this supplementary remuneration ranges from $2,500 to $15,000.

Headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, American Airlines is one of the major carriers in the United States. It holds the largest fleet size and operates flights to over 62 countries, making it a prominent player in the industry.

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The annual salary for first-office pilots at American Airlines ranges from $90,000 to $145,000, while senior captains can expect salaries between $234,000 and $294,000.

4. Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines is the primary provider of commercial flights to and from Hawaii. As the tenth-largest commercial airline in the United States, it has never experienced a fatal accident or hull loss.

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Pilots at Hawaiian Airlines earn an average salary of $128,450 per year. The highest-paid pilots can expect to make $294,000 annually flying over breathtaking landscapes.

Even less seasoned pilots earn an average of $73,000 per year. The salary range for captains with a minimum of 12 years of experience is $304,000 to $364,770. Hawaiian Airlines also offers a bonus plan that can lead to higher earnings.

5. Southwest Airlines

Based in Dallas, Texas, Southwest Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the United States and the world’s largest low-cost carrier. Operating over 101 destinations in the United States and over 10 countries, it boasts the largest Boeing 737 aircraft worldwide.

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Southwest Airlines offers one of the industry’s highest average pilot pay rates, with an annual income of $171,800. The most experienced pilots at Southwest earn $256,400 per year, while newer pilots with less experience can anticipate an average salary slightly above $79,100.

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Apart from its high average salaries and seniority pay, Southwest Airlines is known for having some of the most satisfied employees among all airlines.

6. Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways, a state-owned airline, is recognized as one of the highest-paying airlines globally. Headquartered at the Qatar Airways Tower in Doha, it operates flights to over 150 international destinations with a more than 200 aircraft fleet.

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First-officer pilots employed by Qatar Airways typically earn between $83,000 and $139,000, while senior captains may expect salaries ranging from $171,000 to $195,000.

7. Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines is among the highest-paying airlines worldwide, with pilots earning an average of $114,000 annually.

While the highest-earning pilots at Frontier can make upwards of $235,000, depending on seniority and expertise, less experienced or newly licensed pilots can anticipate an average salary of approximately $67,700 annually.

Although Frontier Airlines offers valuable experience, it pays slightly less than some competitors due to its size and reputation.

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8. China Eastern Airlines

China Eastern Airlines is the second-largest airline in China, with its headquarters at Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport. With a fleet of over 600 aircraft, it serves 1,054 destinations across 177 countries.

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China Eastern Airlines employees can expect annual earnings ranging from $150,000 to $216,000.

9. WestJet

WestJet Airlines is recognized as one of the highest-paying airlines globally. Pilots at WestJet earn an average salary of $92,000 per year. Those with significant experience have the potential to earn around $147,000, while starting salaries for new hires typically range around $64,500.

Based on our analysis, WestJet also offers incentives and profit-sharing programs for its employees, which vary depending on the airline’s economic conditions but can reach up to $10,000 annually.

10. Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines is the highest-paying airline for pilots globally, with an average annual salary of $173,785. Established in 1929, Delta is one of the largest and most renowned airlines globally, ranking second in fleet size.

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The base salary for a Delta Airlines pilot is $106,000, and after promotion to captain, the starting pay is $189,000.

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The average salary for a Delta Airlines captain is approximately $210,000, with pilots flying Boeing 777s potentially earning up to $350,000 per year or $298,500 annually with incentives, which makes it one of the highest-paying airlines in the world.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the world of aviation offers lucrative opportunities for pilots, and the highest-paid airline pilots enjoy impressive salaries and numerous perks.

From Alaska Airlines to Delta Airlines, these top 10 airlines recognize the skill, expertise, and responsibility of safely transporting passengers across the globe.

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The salaries of these pilots are often influenced by factors such as years of experience, total flight hours, and the type of aircraft flown. Along with their generous incomes, pilots may also receive additional benefits such as profit-sharing, bonuses, and enticing compensation packages.

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