As a blast from the past this article from the 1980's seemed instructive. As is evident in this article the industry has seen hiring waves many times over the previous decades. Matter of fact the retirement wave the airlines are beginning to experience is just the backside of a large hiring wave experienced in the 1980s. Also instructive is the number of pilots hired at the large airlines in 1985, many more then the website has forecast in the next few years at the top tier airlines.
Embarked on one of their biggest expansions ever, the nation's 14 major airlines are hiring pilots at a furious pace, a record 8,000 in 1985 alone. The dramatic increase in demand, spurred in large part by union concessions on starting salaries, has led to radical changes at airlines of all sizes in the way pilots are hired and trained. Hiring standards have been changed as the major carriers seek to broaden the base of potential candidates for their cockpits. In particular, the changes have been a boon to veteran pilots who were too old to join the major lines under traditional standards. For example, James K. Webster, a former Air Force pilot, was hired by United Airlines last June at the age of 44, many years after giving up on the idea.