• An airline pilot’s salary: The million-dollar question

    A pilot managing an aircraft

It’s a question many people ask themselves, especially aviation enthusiasts. But now we have the answer.

Here we explain how much an airline pilot’s salary is, what training pilots go through and what bonuses they are eligible for.

Do you want to know?

The salary of an airline pilot depends on many factors

Factors that influence a pilot’s salary range from their level of experience, the number of flight hours they have logged, to the responsibilities they have within the company. Even “extraordinary” activities, such as having to spend days away from their home base or working unexpectedly on their day off, can also affect their pay.

The only certainty is that the minimum a newcomer pilot earns, with no flying hours, is around 22,000 euros per year. However, depending on the airline and its conditions, that first salary can be as much as 28,000 euros per year.

The gallons are important

The minimum salary of 22,000 euros that a rookie pilot can receive does not stop there. Let’s take Wizz Air as an example.

The first rank, in this airline, belongs to pilots with less than 500 hours of accumulated flight time. These pilots have the rank of First Officer, and are paid up to 22,000 euros per year.

The second step is Senior First Officer (SFO), for those with more than 500 flight hours. The salary at this rank varies depending on the company, but the minimum SFO salary is 25,000 euros per year, and up  to 30,000 euros per year.

The last step is to become a commander, also called a captain. The salary of commanders ranges from 40,000 to 100,000 euros per year.

The key is in the bonuses

As mentioned above, the base salary is just that, a base from which pilots start. The key is in the bonuses that a pilot can achieve.
How can you earn them? By examining first officers during their first flight hours on commercial aircraft, being an airline trainer, who trains new pilots to company standards, among other duties.

Other reasons for an increase in an airline pilot’s salary include sleeping away from home, or being on a rest day when the pilot has to come to work for an emergency, among others.

More bonuses can be earned depending on how long the flight lasts, the type of routes, and even the class and model of aircraft flown.

Another great role for a pilot is to be a base manager. In some cities there are airline management centres, which can be based in another country. This base manager is the top manager of the company in that city.

Effort and responsibility are the main reason

Being a pilot is not easy to achieve. Both the training and the responsibility of flying more than 1,000 people per day are demanding and require a great deal of commitment from the student.

Whether you choose the modular or integrated route, pilot training begins with the Private Pilot Licence (PPL-A). After that, you will go through several stages in which you will obtain a further licence and various ratings.

The next licence you will have to pass is the Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL-A) and Airline Transport and, after that, you will have to cope with passing several ratings.

In addition, pilots must be true experts in aspects such as meteorology, principles of flight or air law.

And as if that wasn’t enough, a pilot must be constantly learning, updating their training, renewing their medical certificate, etc. If you want to know what training route a student pilot follows, we leave you this post on what you have to do to become an airline pilot.

Pilot studying the route and conditions
A flight instructor teaching a student

What is the salary of airline pilots in the major airlines?


At the Irish airline, pilots with little experience are paid around 29,000 euros, while experienced commanders and first officers are paid around 100,000 euros a year.

Air Europa

At Air Europa, commanders receive salaries starting from 70,000 euros per year, and first officers start from a minimum of 36,000 euros up to 55,000 euros.

British Airways

Salaries at British Airways depend on the type of aircraft and routes, but the average salary is around 95,000 euros, although pilots on international routes are paid more than 190,000 euros.


This company includes per diems and extras, and salaries start at 15,000 euros a year for new co-pilots and go up to 60,000 euros as they gain experience. As for commanders, their annual compensation varies between 80,000 and 140,000 euros.


The large Spanish airline pays from 35,000 euros a year to pilots with less experience, up to 100,000 euros to commanders with more flight hours under their belts. Depending on the conditions, some captains can get up to 190,000 euros.

Emirates & Qatar Airways

The Middle Eastern airlines offer very competitive salaries. Emirates’ First Officers receive more than 140,000 euros a year, while the salary of commanders is more than 190,000 euros.

As for Qatar Airways, salaries start at 320,000 Qatari rials, which is 78,000 euros per year.

American Airlines

But in the United States, too, they offer a very juicy salary. American Airways’ base salary is between 100,000 and 120,000 dollars a year, while the most experienced pilots earn up to 700,000 dollars.


But Lufthansa takes the cake. The German airline trains its pilots for two years, after which they are paid from 100,000 euros a year, up to 190,000 euros, depending on the agreement.

As an experienced commander, the salary can reach up to 225,000 euros a year.

  • Pilot controlling an aircraft

Would you like to become a pilot?

There is no doubt that an airline pilot’s salary is a very competent and attractive one, which corresponds to the degree of responsibility required of pilots.

The safety and well-being of crew and passengers is in their hands, in addition to the extensive and comprehensive training they must complete.

It’s a job for adventurous, nomadic people who don’t mind periods away from home and changing schedules.

And you, would you like to become a commercial pilot? If this is your dream and you want to know how to achieve it, we encourage you to follow our aviation blog and read articles such as job offers in the sector.

You may be interested…