A Government Funded Event
While I do have an MBA, it does not take a masters in business to see that this summer pilot shortage should have been avoided. A quick Internet search indicates that the government paid airlines insurmountable funds to survive the "Covid" challenge: An $85 Billion Rescue May Only Delay the Pain and Taxpayers spent Billions on Bailing out Airlines.
1) Offer those pilots that have already been paid to retire an opportunity to return to the flightline. These pilots will take a day in the simulator, maybe two, depending on currency and they will be qualified.
2) Enable those pilots who were forced to retire at 65 to return to the flight deck and fly until 67 to get the airlines through this challenging time. They too will require minimal training.
Captain Rich Seiler, forced to retire at 65 six months ago, is still playing semi-professional senior baseball, is physically fit, competent and wants to fly. It simply does not make sense to ground him and other pilots like himself that could be helping in this time of need.
Union and Pilot Objections and Solutions:
SENIORITY: "It's not fair they come in over our seniority." SOLUTION: Place them on their original equipment, base of their choice, at the bottom of the seniority list in that base.
UPGRADE: "It's not fair, it will delay my upgrade." RESPONSE: Maybe for the short term. But growth is immense and airlines expect to hire 14,500 new pilots over the next 8 years. This is not a long term solution, but simply until the airlines get caught up with training.
DOUBLE PAY: "They'll take my overtime trips" RESPONSE: There are overtime trips being cancelled now. There is more than enough to go around for everyone.
OVER 65 PHYSICAL HEALTH: Pilot's fitness is assessed whether they are 55, 65. or 67. That make no difference. Either a pilot is or is not fit. Age is not the issue. NetJets employs pilots to fly that are older than 89.
COGNITIVE ABILITY: There are tests to check cognitive ability. While every person has a different baseline, these tests could be utilized to determine a decline in the performance of a pilot for their own level.
I would think with contract negotiations in progress at all airlines, that creative minds on both sides could solve the problem by simply signing a contract that works for everyone and enables this 12-24 month fix, with a long-term contract secured.