One of the reasons why many choose a career in the aviation industry is because of the lucrative paycheck. Among the most sort after professionals in the aviation industry are pilots. Considering the risk of conveying hundreds of travellers from one continent to another, no wonder they are earning big.
However, the path to becoming a private or commercial pilot is a tasking one. To qualify to fly a commercial plane, you must put in hours and years to gain the necessary experience. Also, the cost of enrolling in an aviation school and getting certified can be neck-breaking.
As a pilot, in addition to the base salary, there are several bonuses attached to your contract with the airline. Also, the salary of pilots differs depending on the type of aeroplane, destination, hours and many other factors. That brings us to the question of the day, which airline pays its pilots the most in the world?
15 Highest-Paying Airlines in the World for Pilots 2023
Below is the list of the top 15 highest-paying airlines for pilots in the world.
1. Delta Airlines
Delta airline is one of the biggest and oldest airlines in the world. The airline which has been in operation since 1929 has several subsidiaries including Virginia, Atlanta, Endeavor air, etc. Delta Airlines is ranked second among the world’s largest airlines by fleet size.
Starting pay for a Delta Airlines pilot is $66,000. However, upon promotion to Captain, Delta pilots earn a starting salary of $189,000. The top pay for a Delta Airlines Captain is approximately $210,000, but those flying a Boeing 777 can potentially earn $298,500 per year plus bonuses or as much as $350,000 in one year.
Lufthansa is the largest German airline and one of the largest in Europe. The company has several subsidiaries including Austrian Airlines, Swiss International Airlines, Eurowings and Brussel Airlines. With over 700 aircraft in its fleet, Lufthansa is one of the largest airline fleets in the world.
By industry standards, Lufthansa pilots are among the highest-paid in the world. The starting captain salary of a Lufthansa pilot is about 180,000 euros ($190,000) a year before tax. Captains on the highest level can earn as much as 285,000 euros ($300,000) a year.
3. Alaska Airline
Alaska Airlines is the highest paying airline in the world. It is also one of the oldest airlines in the United States. The 77-year old aviation company pay pilots between $78,543.00 to $190,0000 per year for a new officer who has worked in the company for a year to twelve years.
On the other hand, a senior captain working with an Alaska airline earns a salary between $225,900 to $266,000 with over twelve years of service.
4. United Airlines
Founded in 1926, United Airlines is one of the major airlines in the United States with headquarters at Willis Tower in Chicago, Illinois. United Airlines is currently the third-largest airline globally by fleet size and route network.
The annual salaries of United Airlines pilots range from $91,000 to $140,000 for first officers. On the other hand, a senior captain working with United Airlines earns an annual salary between $210,000 to $352,000 depending on experience in practice.
5. Hawaiian Airline
Headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii, Hawaiian airline is the largest operator of commercial flights to and from the US state of Hawaii. The airline is also the tenth-largest commercial airline in the United States. Interestingly, Hawaiian airline is the oldest US carrier with no fatal accident or a hull loss throughout its history.
Hawaiian airline is also one of the highest-paying airlines for pilots. First officers earn between $32,000 to
First-time officers earn approximately $32,400 to $78,000. For captains with at least 12 years of experience, the salary ranges from $304,000 to $364,770.
6. American Airways
American Airlines is one of the major airlines in the United States with its headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. The airline is the largest airline by fleet size, and destinations and the second-largest by revenue. American Airlines Group serves over 1,100 routes with over 62 countries.
The airline is also one of the highest-paid airlines for pilots. First officer pilots working with American Airways airways earn between $90,000 – $145,000 as salary per annum. Senior captains earn between $234,000 to $294,000 annually.
7. Air China
The flag carrier of the People’s Republic of China, Air China is one of the “Big Three” mainland Chinese airlines. With headquarters in Shunyi District, Beijing, the airline operates flights to domestic and international destinations.
First pilots working with Air china earn a salary range between $76,000 and $121,000 every year. Captains with years of experience earn between $180,000 to $309,600.
8. Southwest Airlines
With headquarters in Dallas, Texas, Southwest Airlines is one of the biggest airlines in the United States. Southwest Airlines is currently the world’s largest low-cost carrier. The airline is also the largest operator of Bering 737 worldwide covering over 101 destinations in the United States and over 10 countries.
The average annual salary working with Southwest airlines is between $84,000 to $191,000. Senior captains earn between $241,000 to $274,000 annually.
9. China Southern Airlines
Headquartered in Baiyun District, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China Southern Airlines is the largest airline in China. The airline is one of the biggest three airlines in China and the sixth-largest airline by passenger carrier in the world. The airline also operates over 2,000 flights to over 200 destinations globally.
Pilots working with China Eastern airlines earn between $204,000 to $264,000 annually.
10. JetBlue Airways
Headquartered in the Long Island neighbourhood of the New York City borough of Queens, JetBlue Airways is the seventh-largest airline in the United States by passenger carriers. The airline serves over 102 domestic and international destinations.
First officer pilots working with JetBlue airways earn between $89,000 – $180,000 as salary per annum. Captains earn between $234,000 to $269,000 annually.
11. Qatar Airways
The state-owned flag carrier with headquarters in the Qatar Airways Tower in Doha is one of the highest-paid airlines for pilots. The airline with over 200 aircraft in its fleet covers over 150 international destinations across all the continents.
The average salary of a First officer pilot working with Qatar is between $83,000 to $139,000. Senior captains working with Qatar airways earn between $171,000 to $195,000.
12. Frontier Airlines
With headquarters in Denver, Colorado, Frontier Airlines operated flights to over 100 destinations throughout the United States and 31 international destinations. The airline is currently in talks to acquire Spirit Airlines, another US-based ultra-low-cost carrier.
First officers working with Frontier airlines earn between $58,000 to $ 113,000. Captains with over 12 years of experience, can earn between $184,000 to $245,000 as salary per annum.
13. Air France
Headquartered in Tremblay-en-France, Air France is the flag carrier of France. The airline is a subsidiary of the Air France-KLM group. Air France serves 36 domestic destinations and 175 destinations in 78 countries.
First officers working with Air France earn an average salary of $56,000 to $133,000. Captains working with the airline earn between $235,000 to $303,000 annually.
14. China Eastern Airlines
China Eastern Airlines is the second-largest carrier in China by passenger numbers after China Southern Airlines. The airline is headquartered in the China Eastern Airlines Building, on the grounds of Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport in Shanghai. The airline operated over 600 fleets of aircraft servicing 1,054 destinations in 177 countries.
Pilots working with China Eastern airlines earn between $150,000 to $216,000 yearly.
Headquartered in Swords, Dublin, Republic of Ireland, Ryanair is an Irish ultra-low-cost carrier founded in 1984. The airline serves over 40 countries in the world.
Pilots working with Ryanair earn between $158,000 – $211,000 annually.