Pilot salary: How much do pilots earn in 2020?

Due to their complicated and expensive training and the high responsibility associated with their job, airline transport pilots generally receive high remuneration.

Pilots’ salaries differ depending on the airline, country, rank, seniority, and also the type of flights (long-haul vs. short-haul), which is why there is no single number applicable to all.

Below you will find examples of average salaries paid to pilots by selected airlines in the UK and other European countries.

Note: All remuneration amounts specified below are a total yearly income and include the basic salary and the flight pay (flight hours pay).

Average salary of a First Officer

A) Regional and short-haul flights

As an example of an income earned by a First Officer on regional flights, we chose Loganair. Based on the information retrieved from various sources on the internet, First Officers entering employment in this airline are paid around £30,000 (turboprop aircraft). With rising seniority, this amount is expected to increase.

Most often, regional flights are operated by ATR-42/72, Bombardier Dash-8, Airbus A220 or Embraer 170/190 aircraft.

Typical airlines specialising in short-haul and medium-haul flights include easyJet and Ryanair. While easyJet pays their First Officers approximately £55,000 (UK contract), Ryanair pays them approximately £65,000 (UK contract, the amount is significantly lower for bases outside the UK).

Most often, short-haul and medium-haul flights are operated by Boeing B737 or Airbus A320 aircraft.

B) Long-haul flights

Virgin Atlantic is an example of an air carrier specialising in long-haul flights. The remuneration paid to the First Officer starts at £77,000 and gradually rises depending on the number of years worked at the company.

Based on information supplied by the British Airline Pilots’ Association, a co-pilot working for a competing carrier, British Airways, earns £59,000 a year (a cadet, however, earns only £27,000 – this applies to short-haul flights).

In the case of the Irish carrier Aer Lingus, the remuneration paid to First Officers on long-haul flights starts at £66,000 (which corresponds to €78,000 – remuneration paid in euros). The income rises each year, as the level of seniority within the company goes up.

Long-haul flights are most often operated by Boeing B777, B787 or Airbus A330, A350 and A380 aircraft.

Note: Generally, the remuneration of pilots – First Officers – in training such as type rating or line training is lower, corresponding approximately to one to two thirds of a standard salary earned after the training is completed.

Average salary of an airliner Captain

A) Regional and short-haul flights

As an example of an income earned by an airliner captain on regional flights we can again turn to Loganair, a company operating Saab 340, ATRs or Embraer aircraft. A captain working for this company earns between £60,000 – £70,000 a year.

At easyJet, a captain’s salary starts at £120,000 and can rise to £145,000. These amounts apply to captains based in the UK and may differ for other bases.

At Ryanair, captains based at London Stansted earn £135,600 (including contributions to a pension scheme). Dublin-based captains working for this company earn up to £156,150 (again, including pension scheme contributions). In the case of Ryanair, seniority does not affect the remuneration of captains in any way.

B) Long-haul flights

Long-haul pilots enjoy one of the highest salaries in the industry. At Virgin Atlantic, their annual salary starts at £126,000 and may rise to £160,000 a year with an increasing level of seniority.

British Airways states that a captain’s average salary amounts to £167,000 plus approximately £16,000 in flight allowances. Long-haul captains with existing contracts earn almost £200,000 a year; new contracts, however, offer lower amounts.

A European company such as Air France pays long-haul captains up to £195,000, while Lufthansa offers up to £240,000 a year (excluding other employee benefits).

It is important to note that becoming a captain may not be the final step in the career path in an airline. Pilots may also pursue other positions such as training captain (LTC), type rating examiner (TRE) or chief pilot. If successful, they will be entitled to a higher salary than outlined above.

Remuneration paid to charter (e.g. Thomson or TUI) or cargo (DHL, FedEx) flights pilots is essentially similar to the amounts outlined above. There are also no differences between salaries paid to male and female pilots.

Remuneration of the flight crew depends very much on the aviation company’s economic situation, and may fluctuate in both directions over time. However, this fluctuation generally does not exceed 20% a single adjustment.

When negotiating salary with an aviation company, pilots are often represented by unions (such as BALPA in the UK or SEPLA in Spain).

A very good source for comparing the current salaries of pilots in individual aviation companies is pilotjobsnetwork.com.