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ATP says flight school industry is 'on fire'

ATP Flight School announced an enhanced partnership with regional air carrier SkyWest Airlines, hot on the heels of a deal with United Airlines.

The latest agreement comes less than a week after ATP and United announced a partnership February 5 to provide aspiring airline pilots with training and a direct route to a United flight deck, via United’s Aviate career pathway program.

The updated partnership between ATP and SkyWest calls for increased tuition reimbursement up to $17,500 for pilots training with ATP Flight School and reaffirms a “shared commitment to developing the industry’s best pilots,” the flight school noted February 10.

“We definitely dove into 2020 headfirst,” ATP Marketing Director Michael Arnold told AOPA. “The industry is on fire and it’s very much a pilot’s market. They have more opportunities than ever before, and we are trying to maximize those opportunities.”

Arnold said increasing tuition reimbursement from $11,000 to $17,500 was “a pretty big step up” for pilots in the ATP program. In 2019, ATP committed to purchasing 100 Cessna 172 Skyhawk SP models with plans to modernize and expand its fleet of 398 single- and multiengine aircraft.

The school prides itself on providing “airline-oriented flight training” that can take students with zero experience and prepare them for a commercial airline career with the SkyWest Airlines Pilot Pathway Program. Candidates can complete the training regimen in nine months and then transition to a guaranteed flight instructor job to help log the flight hours needed to earn an airline transport pilot certificate.

ATP flight instructors are eligible to apply for the SkyWest pathway and can begin incrementally receiving the tuition reimbursement as they build flight time and experience. Pilots investing in the program receive “career mentorship, enhanced company seniority and a guaranteed first officer interview,” among other benefits.

ATP said the initiative makes a pilot career pathway to the airlines “more attainable by helping ease the financial barrier aspiring pilots can face” during professional pilot training.

Arnold added that the company was continuing to evolve its other regional partnerships, which include a "massive signing bonus” with Mesa Airlines that is worth $35,000. Mesa was ATP’s tuition reimbursement launch partner and is also part of the United pathway.

He said 2019 was a record hiring year for ATP students, with 700 airline placements made during the calendar year. “As long as I’ve been at ATP, I’ve never seen that number of pilots hired in one year.” He added that the number of hires “was a big boost of encouragement” to ATP personnel and graduates. The flight school is expanding its locations to include training centers in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and San Antonio, Texas, and is “looking to expand into the Northeast as well.”

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