Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air launch Ascend Pilot Academy

Captain Emma Bryson of Redmond, OR, ©Hillsboro Aero Academy

Alaska Airlines and its regional partner Horizon Air are teaming up with Hillsboro Aero Academy, a premier flight school in the Pacific Northwest, to launch the Ascend Pilot Academy (APA). This new development programme, designed for aspiring pilots, provides a simpler, more financially accessible path to becoming a commercial pilot at Horizon and eventually Alaska. The programme is part of a larger effort to address a growing pilot shortage coupled with increased travel demand.

In partnership with Hillsboro Aero, the two airlines will register and train up to 250 students a year. Once enrolled, cadet pilots will be eligible for low-interest financial aid, a US$25,000 stipend to cover the cost of a commercial pilot license, mentorship and guidance from Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air pilots and a conditional job offer at Horizon Air, with an opportunity to fly with Alaska Airlines after meeting certain criteria.

An industry-wide shortage of pilots has emerged during the pandemic. Over the past two years, thousands of pilots at major airlines took early retirements, accelerating a pilot shortage that was already on the horizon. In 2022 alone, mainline airlines are expected to hire more than 10,000 pilots – twice the amount hired in 2019. With 80% of these hires anticipated to be sourced from regional airlines like Horizon Air, a more robust talent pipeline is critical to maintaining operational efficiency and business growth.

Combined, Alaska and Horizon estimate they will need to hire 500 pilots a year, or 2,000 by 2025. The Ascend Pilot Academy is one part of building that diverse talent pipeline.

Email Post to a Friend Email Post to a Friend