Some mental arithmetic (doesn't even need a whiz wheel or FMC) can quickly get us some idea of what pilots cost as a percentage of revenue. These numbers are rounded so VERY approximate and don't really relate to any particular airline or aeroplane, but the answers may surprise some.
Consider a 10 hour long-haul sector carrying 400 pax. Assume the sector seats cost an average $1000; Then total revenue is $400,000.
Assume 3 pilots with salaries and on costs are costing $480,000 p.a. and the crew flies 1000 hours p.a.. Then the cost of the 3-pilot crew is $480 per hour or $4,800 for that sector.
The pilot cost as a percentage of total income is then 4,800/400,000 * 100 = 1.2%.
Thought of in another way, each pax is paying ($4,800/400) = $12 towards the pilot costs out of their total fare of $1,000.
What are the numbers for your favourite type of aeroplane?
Or put another way, a pilot costing $200,000 per annum who flys about 800 hours per year costs...
200,000/800 = $250 per hour
Now tell me how much the fuel is per hour?
Better still what is depreciation on the airframe worth per hour?
Oh, no depreciation because you lease, okay what is your lease cost per hour?
You can soon see that paying pilots less makes SFA difference in the scheme of things. Much better to pay the pilots and CC well and have them look after your business for you, save fuel here, time there etc
If you do some similar numbers for a SAAB, about $6 per fare covers the pilot wages. It also means pilots' wages could double if everyone payed $6 more, a bit drastic, but it'd be nice...Now ask each passenger if the want to pay $120 and have a 19 year old pilot straight out of the academy, with about the same experience as a P plater up front, or pay $126 dollars to have an experienced crew, I think I know which option most pax would choose.
need to factor in Check and trainers wages into the total cost of line pilots as well as all other training and accommodation, meal, uniform transport and additional costs. Granted its probably only 30-50k per pilot so the principle is still the same but it's not "that simple".
Anonymous and icarus still raise good points. I may use them in our up coming EBA negotiations.
Also need to factor a reserve crew allowance for each flight. The figures quoted at 400 pax I assume is a 747 as a VOz 777 only carries 350, of which you could only guarantee a 70-75% load factor for international ops and an A380 crew would be paid a lot more.
So revenue on an average load of 75%, 777 would be closer to $265,000.
Adjusted for reserve availability crew cost would be at least $600p/h or $6000 the sector and they are now 2.2% of income.
Factor in Flight atendants, engineering and support staff and labour still comes in at less than 20% of costs.
It doesn't matter what percentage of the equation you are most airlines make poor profit compared to income measured in tens of millions against billions changing hands. If it was that easy to charge a few extra dollars and make millions it would be done already. And the moment you do someone starts a new cheaper airline to undercut you claiming they are doing you a service. Fuel surcharges work because all the airlines do it simultaneously.
If you do some similar numbers for a SAAB, about $6 per fare covers the pilot wages.
Are those numbers on a full SAAB or the average load factor for Rex which is closer to 60%?
Another way to put it is Rex made $24 million profit last year, if there are 300 pilots and you paid each an average of $10K more than it would cost at least $3.3 million (including super) $20K $6.6 million and so on... at $20k each you would still have made $17million profit.
Comprehensive well written article in Business and Commercial Aviation Sept 2010 entitled "Statistics Point the way to Safety."
Extracts (edited for brevity) pertinent to the proposed FAA rule to lift airline copilot standards:
1. Pilots with less than 4000 hours total time and 300 hours on type are involved with two-thirds of all turbojet/turbofan accidents and incidents.
2. Tyre failures, particularly during takeoff roll were another leading cause of mishaps suffered by business jets.
3. Another main reason for pilot error accidents is that more inexperienced pilots are entering aviation and should get twice per year training to get up to speed.
4. Today's pilots have become too dependent upon cockpit automation, relying too much on the flight guidance systems to control the aircraft during virtually all phases of flight. Technology has produced "Children of the Magenta Line" - pilots who cannot fly without an operable GPS or FMS, along with a full color moving map.
5. Autopilots and flight directors have taken away from airmanship. Over-reliance on ops manuals have taken away decision making.
6. Pilots need to spend more time hand-flying the aircraft, especially in gusting wind conditions and/or when landing on contaminated runways.
7. Hands-on flying and risk assessment is much more important than total time in a log book.
Speakers at last week's Asia Pacific Aviation Training Symposium at Kuala Lumpur thought otherwise. In fact they accented more emphasis on automation as a means of reducing the loss of control accidents and advocated less training on engine failures and more accent on LOFT, CRM, TEM and en-route diversion planning in the simulator.
It was considered by one speaker that low hour pilots were no problem providing they were expert at automation. This view was certainly at odds with the FAA view on low hour inexperienced pilots in jet transports. The basic premise at the APAT meeting seemed to be that the incredible reliability of modern aircraft systems meant pilot manual flight intervention of a perceived automatic problem has caused eventual loss of control.
Its been around for a while but worth a read. See what that costs you.
Qantas is a publicly listed company. I'm sure if you got their annual reports out you could do some pretty comprehensive studies on aggregate passenger-mile costs of various things.
Myself, I can't be particularly bothered, since I'm not about to buy shares. (which all Pilots could do to experience if they enjoy a wee dram of capitalism instead of the usual order of a pint of die-hard communism)
It's not quite so simple. Management looks at the TOTAL bill for pilots pay, X millions depending on the size of the company. If he can save say 10% of that amount it's a considerable sum of money. If he gets 10% of what he's saved he's done well for himself.
Pilot pay is a soft target compared to getting the Arabs to reduce the fuel price.
Isn't it true that Staff Wages make up the largest percentage of the money just about any company spends? Once had a man with quite some managerial experience tell me that "Any idiot can look for the most expensive part of a business which is generally staff and reduce that cost, it takes a good manager to look at everything else and find innovative ways to reduce THOSE costs without endangering the overall product and/or delivery!"
A long term happy pilot force will create miracles. The first Airline to understand this will see millions of dollars suddenly appear.
Why exactly? I dont see many pilots flying around going "lets shove them leavers forward a bit more, that will teach them! Mwahahaha!" Im sure none of us lower our standards/operate outside of SOP just to 'show them'.
However we as pilots / employees are to blame for the salaries being low.
The airlines mentioned Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin and REX all have have no crewing problems. I'm not talking about pilots p!sssing and moaning about not having enough pilots but the last time flights were cancelled due lack of crew?
All the airlines above have hold files as in pilots waiting or wanting to work for the current cash and I would be willing to bet that most on those hold files would agree to work for less
Airlines are employers and answer to share holders and owner they will always want larger profit margins and low crewing cost is included.
Nothing will change unless pilots stop applying to work these job for that cash hence this will drive the salary up... simple supply and demand.