The holiday shipping season is coming and FedEx is making sure the packages get there on time.
The delivery service wants to keep retirement-age pilots on the job with special incentives.
FedEx is paying pilots bonuses of $40,000 – and potentially as much as $110,000 – to keep them flying into next year, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter and a contract seen by Reuters.
The growth of global e-commerce is straining the world’s largest air delivery fleet as pilot retirements, global pilot shortages and rising cargo demand create a challenge.
United Parcel Service is trying to recruit hundreds of pilots this year but is not paying bonuses.
The average daily delivery volumes can double during the holidays.
FedEx spokeswoman Bonny Harrison declined to comment on pilot pay or its use of bonuses to manage the timing of retirements.
Harrison did point to details of a pilot recruitment campaign it launched publicly in April and said FedEx had about 5,000 aviators on its payroll, according to Reuters.
Flying for FedEx is the highest-paying job among U.S. carriers, with 30-year pilots making roughly $300,000 not counting overtime or bonuses, industry sources said.
FedEx and UPS had record holiday peak business in 2016 and 2017, and plan to hire a total of 155,000 temporary workers for the peak season to help to deliver products bought from retailers like Amazon.com, Walmart and Best Buy.
The National Retail Federation expects 2018 U.S. holiday retail sales in November and December to increase as much as 4.8 percent from last year to $720.89 billion.