In good news for pilots, Las Vegas-based Allegiant plans to boost its pilot numbers by 184 this northern summer. With nearly 1,000 pilots currently flying for Allegiant, that’s around a 19% increase.
“These new pilots will be a welcome addition to our current roster of exceptional flight crew members,” says Allegiant executive Tracy Tulle. “Their hiring really marks an exciting part of our five-year growth plan, which includes onboarding new pilots and flight attendants, as well as adding aircraft to our fleet, and new bases, cities, and routes to our network.”
Allegiant bounces back
Like airlines everywhere, Allegiant felt the pinch in 2020. In the second quarter of 2020, capacity and departures were down about 50% from the same period in 2019. Mid-2020, Allegiant was warning pilots furloughs were inevitable. Tranches of federal funding helped saved the day regarding involuntary job losses. However, substantial numbers of Allegiant employees, pilots, and otherwise, went onto extended periods of leave while Allegiant attempted to navigate the travel downturn.
But this year, Allegiant has come roaring back. “I could not be more bullish on our outlook,” said Allegiant’s President and CEO, Maurice Gallagher Jnr, in April. “Going forward, our full-year, 2021 capacity should exceed 2019 capacity levels.
“We would not be in the favorable position we are today without the continued efforts of the 4,000 employees throughout our network. Their hard work has been integral to successfully navigate the most difficult year in the industry’s history.”
More flights mean more work for pilots
The rebound in passenger demand across the United States is driven by the leisure and visiting friends and relatives (VFR) segments. These are the types of passengers Allegiant’s low-cost business model has traditionally targeted. That has put Allegiant in a good position to benefit from the rebound.
Across March, Allegiant flew slightly fewer passengers than it did in March 2019 – 1,095,572 in March 2021 versus 1,484,326 in March 2019. But Allegiant flew more flights this March than it did in March 2019 – 11,710 departures against 10,297 departures in March 2019.
That means load factors in March 2021 were much lower than in March 2019, but from a pilot’s perspective, more Allegiant flights taking off means more work. Allegiant says they were the first domestic airline to restore flight numbers to 2019 levels. The airline says the first intake of new pilots will be in July, with further intakes continuing through to 2022.
Allegiant’s business models make the airline an employer of choice
According to Geir Bjoran, Allegiant’s chief pilot, the airline’s out-and-back business model is unique in the industry. The airline operates an all-Airbus fleet of A319s and A320s, flying more than 580 routes to 129 cities. The aircraft are assigned to one of the airline’s 20 bases across the United States, where pilots and other crew members live.
“Because our flights are point-to-point, with no layovers or connecting flights, our crew members end most workdays back at their home base,” says Geir Bjoran. The chief pilot argues getting back home most nights, combined with decent salaries, makes flying for Allegiant a career sweet spot for many pilots.
Allegiant is not the only United States-based airline keen to increase its pilot numbers. The big United States carriers, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and American Airlines are all busy rehiring pilots. The trend is extending through the industry to smaller operators and low-cost airlines like Allegiant.
We often look at the history and development of aircraft on Simple Flying, but what about airports? With…
We often look at the history and development of aircraft on Simple Flying, but what about airports? With aviation developing in the US and Europe, it won’t come as a surprise that many of the oldest airports are located there. But what are the oldest airports that are still operational today? This article takes a look at eight of the oldest.
1. College Park Airport, United States
The prize for the oldest airport in the world, still in operation, goes to College Park Airport, Maryland, US. It was established in 1909 and refers to itself as the ‘Cradle of Aviation.’
The airport has its origins tied up with the Wright Brothers. Wilbur and Orville Wright flew the first powered airplane on December 17th, 1903, near Kitty Hawk in North Carolina – for just 12 seconds. By 1905 they had improved this and flew for 39 minutes. Further flying was then on hold until the brothers secured contracts.
College Park was opened as part of the Wright Brothers expansion. It was initially a base for Wilbur Wright to train military officers to fly the US government’s first aircraft, a Wright Type A biplane. The airport went on to house the United State’s first military aviation school, which opened in 1911.
Today, it is still in use as a gateway airport for private aviation. It has an onsite museum displaying many of the aircraft from its history, including a replica Wright Flyer, a replica Bleriot XI, and several Curtiss and early Boeing aircraft.
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2. Hamburg Airport, Germany
Hamburg is the oldest airport in Germany still operating, and the second oldest in the world. It opened in 1911 as a base for Zeppelin airships. The airport was taken over for military use during the First World Wat and largely destroyed, but re-emerged in 1919. It was used as a staging area during the Berlin Airlift after the Second World War.
It then grew as a major international airport for the country. Lufthansa launched passenger services in 1955, with Hamburg as the main base before Frankfurt. And Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) launched services between New York, London, and Hamburg in 1959. It remains an important international airport today, although it has been overtaken in passenger volume by Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf, and Tegel.
Germany did have an older airport. Berlin Templehof airport opened in 1909. Its first year saw demonstration flights by Orville Wright and French aviator Armand Zipfel. It served as the head base of Deutsche Luft Hansa from its founding in 1926, a major base during the Second World War, and the main airport for Berlin until expansion took off at Tegel from the 1960s. It closed in 2008.
3. Shoreham Airport, UK
The UK’s oldest airport is at Shoreham, near Brighton. It opened in 1910 with a number of flying enthusiasts using it as a base for bold, early flights. The first (according to the airport’s documented history) was Harold Piffard.
He was one of the first British aviators and had experimented with aircraft since 1909. Together with a business partner, he opened Shoreham as a base to fly his Hummingbird aircraft. This never flew more than a mile but was an important starting point for UK aviation!
Piffard moved on to other areas, but Shoreham remained. A flight school opened in 1913. And it was taken over by the military during both world wars. Today, the airport remains in use for private aircraft and flight training, known now as Brighton City Airport.
4. Bucharest Aurel Vlaicu Airport, Romania
Aurel Vlaicu is not the main airport today in Bucharest, but a smaller one used as a business airport (although it may soon take commercial flights again). It did, though, serve as the main airport until Otopeni Airport opened in 1965.
The airport was founded in 1912 when a flight school was opened there. It was named to honor Aurel Vlaicu, a Romanian aviation pioneer who built the country’s first powered aircraft.
In 1920, CFRNA (The French – Romanian Company for Air Navigation), later to become national airline TAROM, started service at the airport. The main terminal building was added in 1952, designed as a central dome with three wings representing an aircraft propeller.
5. Bremen Airport, Germany
Bremen Airport opened in 1913. Like Hamburg, it was planned to handle airships but soon switched focus to aircraft. Civilian flights took place between periods of military use during both world wars. After the Second World War, it was controlled by the US Air Force until 1949. Lufthansa began operating from the airport in 1950 and established its main flight training school there.
6. Don Mueang Airport, Thailand
Don Mueang takes a special place amongst a list of American and European airports as the oldest continuously operating airport in Asia. It was actually the second airport opened in Thailand (the first being Sa Pathum, now a horse racecourse). The airport opened in 1914 and housed the first aircraft of the Thai Air Force.
It was occupied by the Japanese military during the Second World War and heavily bombed. The British RAF occupied it after the end of the war, until mid-1946.
Commercial services began with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines in 1924. It served as the main airport for Bangkok (known as Bangkok International Airport) until the new Suvarnabhumi airport opened in 2006. Don Mueang closed officially in September 2006 but soon re-opened in March 2007 after many airlines protested against the higher fees at Suvarnabhumi.
7. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, Netherlands
Schiphol was founded in 1916 as a military airport. Commercial flights began in 1920, with service to London (Croydon Airport at the time). It grew significantly in time for the Olympic Games, held in Amsterdam in 1928. This saw one of the largest terminal buildings yet built at an airport.
Schiphol was mostly destroyed during the Second World War but rebuilt after. Today, it is the ninth busiest airport globally for aircraft movement, by far the highest on this list.
8. Rome Ciampino Airport
Ciampino airport opened in 1916. As the first major airport in Italy, it witnessed many of the countries early aviation feats. It was from here in 1926 that Italian aviator Umberto Nobile left for the Arctic with the airship Norge. This was the first aircraft to cross the polar ice cap from Europe to America and may have been the first aircraft to reach the North Pole (although this is the subject of debate).
Ciampino served as the main airport for Rome until Leonardo da Vinci Airport opened in 1961. For many years after that, it handled private aviation and cargo but has re-emerged as a low-cost hub.
There are plenty of other old airports around the world. Feel free to share what you know about some of these in the comments.
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