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America Wants YOU (If You Can Fly a Plane)

August 22, 2007 | Posted in: Airline News,Pilots

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.

4 Responses to “America Wants YOU (If You Can Fly a Plane)”

  1. wayne says:

    i am an airline pilot who retired three years early because of the pay,benefits and working conditions. i would not recommend anyone to strive to be a commercial pilot, it is not worth it. you have management that would like to work you to death and passengers to be god and get them to their destination and hold their hands for every little thing and then when something goes wrong the faa comes along and wants to blame it on pilot error. i am tickled to death that i am retired. i would not change my decision for anything. in my opiinion one of the worst things the airlines have done was create frequent flier programs. they have created a segment of fliers who feel they are entitled to everything!!

  2. Alberto in Ottawa says:

    I’m glad you feel that way about your retirement Wayne. It seems to me that your beef should be directed only to management and not the passengers. Without them, you would have had no job. Out of the millions of them, you are certain to get few difficult ones. That is life here on human side of it.

  3. lynn says:

    I understand the frustration of the employees of the airline industry. Although I do not have to live it, I have a brother who is a Captain and Sister-in-law that was a stewardess for years. The life is tuff and depending on the schedule, the home life suffers. I also am aware there have been large cuts in salary and benefits…but it is not the passengers or frequent flyers. I am both and am always grateful, not asking for much and saying please and thanks for the service. I also understand that not all customers are nice and can be rude but that can be true regardless of whatever they are doing…shopping, eating, whatever. I think the frustration should be with the airline corporations themselves. Just like a lot of different industries…it is all about them. The employees take a hit and the big shots get all the money. Bottom line…the airline employees are not the only ones being treated that way.

  4. Immigrant says:

    All right, Striker, you listen, and listen close. Flying a plane is no different from riding a bicycle; it’s just a lot harder to put baseball cards in the spokes.~
    Kramer Quote from the movie Airplane

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