FedEx is paying retirement-age pilots bonuses of as much as $110,000 to keep them flying during the holiday season.
According to news from Reuters, two senior FedEx managers revealed that the company has offered cash bonuses to keep retiring pilots in the air through the holiday shipping season that goes from Thanksgiving to the end of the year. FedEx is set to lose about 150-200 of its roughly 5,000 pilots in 2018 — and the same amount in years to come — as more get closer to the federally mandated pilot retirement age of 65.
FedEx and its rival UPS had record holiday peak business the last two years. Both plan to hire a total of 155,000 temporary workers for this upcoming season. Earlier this week, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reported that holiday sales for U.S. retailers are expected to increase 4.8 percent this year. The NRF stated that sales for the last two months of the year will likely hit between $717.45 billion and $720.89 billion, excluding autos, gasoline and dining out. Holiday sales in 2017 reached $687.87 billion.
FedEx spokeswoman Bonny Harrison would not comment on the bonuses, but said the company had about 5,000 aviators on its payroll.
“FedEx Express is well-staffed with pilots at this time; however, we’re always looking toward the future,” Harrison said.
While the company might be set for this year, problems could arise in the near future. In fact, Trip Miller, managing partner at Memphis-based Gullane Capital Partners and a longtime FedEx shareholder, said the pilot shortage will hit FedEx hardest in about three to five years.
“We live in a world where two-day delivery is becoming much more the norm,” Miller said. “The pilot shortage doesn’t mean ‘we won’t be able to get your cargo from point A to point B’ — it’ll mean ‘we can’t get your packages there as quickly or, if we do, you’re going to pay more.’”