Yes, a pilot shortage is looming; and the airline industry needs to hire about 65,000 new ones over the next 4-years.
And its a problem, right now: Northwest had to cancel 2,000 flights in June alone, because it didnt have enough pilots.
I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that pilots are a very important part (if not the most important) of the air travel experience — this issue gives me pause.
As usual the shortage blame game is directed all over the board:
- Airline management short sightedness
- Upcoming retirements
- Competition from overseas airlines
- Our own Military
What to do? Well, heaven knows the airlines have furloughed enough pilots over the years; just hire em back.
Except, a lot of them dont want to come back. According to Capt. Chris Beebe of the Air Line Pilots Association, in some cases, only 1 in 10 pilots are responding to the recalls. Beebe, a pilot with US Airways, told FareCompare.com Editor Anne McDermott that there are a growing number of pilots who feel, Its just not worth it anymore.
Beebe cites a number of factors, including more working days for cockpit crews. Pilot fatigue, says Beebe, is an insidious and creeping problem.
And then theres the pay: Pilots who work for airlines that have gone through bankruptcies have seen their pay drop from 40- to 60-percent and seen an enormous erosion of benefits. And, thats with the big boys; if you get hired to fly a regional carriers 50-seat planes, you may be making just $18,000 a year.
OK, time for a reality check. A lot of white-collar America knows all about furloughs; its just that they call them lay-offs. And they know all about pay cuts. Why should we care more about pilots than our down-sized middle managers?
Well, does your middle-manager hold your life in his/her hands?
Back to Capt. Beebe; why is he still flying? What about the others? A lot of the fun IS gone, he admits, but its still the most uplifting thing. I just love flying.