For almost any business requiring a skilled worker there is a time period between when a new hire employee isn't useful. Each year, just prior to Lent, managers at Long John Silvers look at staffing and consider hiring. The Friday's during Lent are the busiest times for Long John Silvers. Years ago I used to work for NCR fixing computers in retail and fast food. Long John Silvers was crazy around that time.
Training a fast food employee takes just a few hours or days depending on the job. Back when I was at NCR I was sent to Dayton, Ohio for a week of training (8AM-5PM of mind numbing training). After that it was on the job training.
Airlines are similar, but unlike many professions they must attempt to use a crystal ball when it comes to hiring. If an airline bets correctly, they are properly staffed and flights go out on time. If they bet wrong, they are understaffed with tired, cranky pilots and flights will never leave the gate.
Training for my airline started later October 2007 and didn't officially finish until mid January 2008. Of course back then there were training classes of 10+ people coming in every two weeks. In addition my airline was training new Captains, training new First Officers in new planes and providing recurrent training to all pilots. In my aircraft training class were a mix of new Captains, new to the airline First Officers and new to the plane First Officers. I would never want to work in an airline training department. Never.
Airlines have to look at future bookings and the state of the economy to gauge staffing. They also look at historical data as pilots retire, quit, go on leave monthly. It's an art as much as a science in getting just the right staffing number.
I said all that to say this. A few airlines will be hiring in 2010. Skywest is hiring right now......for a whole 16 positions. Don't hold your breath though as the slots first go to United Airlines furloughs, ASA furloughs then everyone else. Sixteen whole positions.
GoJet airlines is hiring. I'm going to bite my tongue on my personal opinion of why this airline is in existence. Do your homework before heading over there.
American Eagle recently recalled all furloughs. Strong word on the street is even with all the furloughs coming back, they will still be short 60+ pilots. Hiring could start in spring.
Compass is interviewing for limited spots. One odd thing about Compass....you have to pay for your own housing during training. Most airlines pay for housing during training. I think Trans-States is another airline that makes you pay for your own housing.
When hiring starts it's anyone's guess what the hiring minimums will be. With all the recent furloughs there are a lot of pilots on the street with 1000+ hours looking for work. One thing with flying is for many....its in your blood. It's a sickness of which only a few care to be cured from. Right after I was hired, a former 757 Captain who was furloughed from another airline came to my airline as a First Officer. I'm sure part of it was a paycheck/health insurance. I can only imagine this love affair was another part of it.