NEW YORK -- American Airlines is poaching cargo pilots at FedEx and UPS to captain passengers planes for its regional carrier, PSA.
They are offering a $250,000 signing bonus to any captain who leaves FedEx or UPS. They will get $175,000 in their first check and an additional $75,000 after one year.
American Airlines says there's a regional pilot shortage which is causing smaller airports across the country to cancel flights.
UPS and FedEx have reduced cargo shipments and hours for some pilots.
FedEx says it's the perfect time for a partnership.
"Given the softness in air cargo demand across the industry and current FedEx flight operations staffing levels, we shared information about this unique opportunity with our pilots. FedEx and American Airlines have had a good relationship for many years, and their recognition of the quality of our crew force is clear in this recruitment initiative that provides FedEx pilots an additional career path opportunity."
It's good news for regional carriers that are dealing with a global pilot shortage.
"Most importantly it shows just how desperate American Airlines is to get pilots to fly those smaller jets," said American Airlines pilot Capt. Dennis Tajer.
More pilots are moving up to major airlines much faster than before the pandemic, according to industry experts.
"The smaller carriers have been losing pilots at a very high rate of speed to the major carriers," said former pilot John Nance. "This is unprecedented- offering this kind of money - poaching a pilot from one company to another."
Industry experts who spoke to Eyewitness News said they are skeptical of how many cargo pilots who have seniority will actually take that big bonus to start over flying passenger planes -- they say it may not be as glamorous as it sounds.