Air Canada Pilot Salary
This article was written by a guest columnist who works at Air Canada as a Captain on a narrow body aircraft. This pilot has made extensive contributions to our Commercial Pilot Ground School, but always chooses to keep a low profile on the internet.
How much money does an Air Canada pilot make? Well, that’s a very loaded question. So much so, that even my banker gets confused when I’m applying for a loan! The answer varies wildly depending on what airplane you fly, where you fly to, the number of years you’ve been at the company, how many hours you fly and last but certainly not least, the seat you’re qualified to fly in.
When comparing the baseline salaries amongst major airlines in Canada, Air Canada’s, on average, are amongst the highest in the country. Like most other flying jobs, a pilot’s salary is based upon a baseline hourly rate and the number of flying hours they work.
The hourly rate is based upon the type of aircraft you fly, whether you’re qualified as a Captain, First Officer, or Relief Pilot, and the years of service you have at Air Canada. A pilot’s monthly salary is then dependant upon how many hours they fly in that month. The company guarantees that a pilot will be paid a minimum of 75 hrs per month, but the exact number of hours worked can, and usually does, vary with each month and with the peak travel seasons.
Generally speaking, pilots have a lot of control over what airplane and position they choose to fly. If you happen to be financially oriented, you can choose to fly the biggest airplane and the highest paying position that your seniority can hold. But, this usually comes at the cost of less control of your schedule and quality of life.
If better control of your schedule and lifestyle are more important to you, then the Air Canada pilot salary will change as you choose to be more senior on a lower paying aircraft or position.
How much money do Air Canada pilots make?
Here are a few examples of the average pilot salaries for different positions at Air Canada based on 6 years of service and an average of 75 flying hours per month:
A220 FO $80,052
A220 CA $194,640
B737 FO $111,852
B737 CA $196,212
A320 FO $113,088
A320 CA $198,708
A330 FO $142,524
A330 CA $256,980
B787 FO $145,500
B787 CA $262,989
B777 FO $157,032
B777 CA $286,296
The Air Canada pilot salary is quite attractive and motivate a fair number of pilots to want to apply to fly for Air Canada. As such, the hiring process can be competitive and can takes years of expensive training generally followed by years of flying experience to build the qualifications and credentials necessary to be successfully hired by Air Canada. In fact, because it so competitive, it is not uncommon for pilots to migrate to Air Canada from other major Canadian airlines such as Wesjtet and Air Transat.
Unfortunately, for most new hire pilots at Air Canada, accepting one of these coveted positions usually means accepting a pilot job with some of the lowest starting salaries amongst the major airlines in Canada.
How is this so if Air Canada’s salaries are the highest in the Canadian Aviation Industry?
This is because the first 4 years of pilot pay are at a substantially lower and fixed pay rate which remains the same irrespective of what airplane a pilot is assigned to fly. What that means is that for the first few years of their career, the Air Canada pilot salary is the same regardless of whether they fly as a B777 FO or a A220 FO.
So, in the first year a new pilot at Air Canada can expect to make around $57,375 based on flying 75 flying hours per month. Generally speaking, for most pilots starting at Air Canada this first year salary is, more often than not, paradoxically an initial step down in pay for the first few years.
Depending on one’s own financial situation, this can sometimes be a very difficult burden to overcome for the first few years. In fact, some pilots decide to forgo the offer of employment at Air Canada because of this very reason.
Hopefully this give you a better idea of what kind of salary you can expect when working at Air Canada. The career path you choose at the airline is entirely dependant upon your goals and lifestyle choices. These choices ultimately affect your salary at the airline.
Are pilots well paid in Canada?
Generally speaking, no. In the long term, the Air Canada pilot salary is seen as the highest in Canada. However, if you compare their starting salary, it can be much lower than other airlines in Canada. Generally speaking, pilots in Canada are not paid well when compared to their American counterparts. In 2022, a regional airline in the US was hiring for direct entry Captains on a small regional jet for a salary of $158,000 USD per year, starting in year one, and with an additional signing bonus.
What is the highest salary of Pilot in Canada?
Pilots at Air Transat can easily make $250,000 CAD per year after many years of service as a Captain. Air Canada Captains with a lot of seniority who are motivated by income and who do overtime can push more than $400,000 CAD per year towards the end of their retirement.
Air Canada Pilot Salary Per Hour?
It is true that Air Canada pilots do receive an hourly rate. This minimum hourly rate is then added onto other hourly rates such as navigational pay, weight pay, overnight pay, and more. The true Air Canada pilot salary only exists for the first 4 years or until pilots move onto what is known as formula pay. Formula pay, which incorporates all of these additional pay types, is rather convoluted and tends to stump even the smartest of Air Canada pilots.