BATTLE CREEK — Western Michigan University aviation students will have the opportunity to receive mentorship, conditional employment and assistance with regulatory credentials as part of a new partnership with Allegiant Travel Company.
Allegiant has chosen Western Michigan University as an inaugural partner in its Accelerate Pilot Pathway program, with officials putting pen to paper on the agreement Thursday at WMU’s College of Aviation in Battle Creek.
Students who enroll in the program will be assigned an Allegiant mentor to guide them through their educational journey and have the opportunity to be hired as a cadet their senior year with a conditional job as an Allegiant first officer.
“What I especially appreciate about this pathway program is the unique aspect of going right to a large transport aircraft (instead of) going to the regional partner first and then eventually making your way up to the main line carrier,” Raymond Thompson, dean of WMU’s College of Aviation, said Thursday. “That’s unique, I don’t know that anyone else has done this so far.”
The partnership between WMU and Allegiant comes as the aviation industry continues to grapple with a flight crew staffing shortage, at a time when demand for air travel is at a historic high.
“The pilot shortage has become a very real and pressing concern for all of the airlines,” Robert Butler, manager of pilot pathway programs at Allegiant, explained. “The idea was that we would find the right flight schools, and Western Michigan was the first that came to mind, we have a number of alumni who fly for us, and the idea is we would develop this program where they would graduate from here, go through a mentorship program with us and then go straight into an Airbus or a 737 and skip the regional charter world that is the normal progression.”
Students and recent alumni hired as cadets have the ability to visit Allegiant’s headquarters in Las Vegas as well as the airline’s training centers. Once a cadet completes…
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