Old 19th Feb 2010, 10:40
  #75 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Austria
Age: 59
Posts: 65
Scope wars have been on for 20 years +. Bottom line of all scope war so far was a struggle between management (trying to cut costs) and mainline Copilots (trying to upgrade). Two important parties were not really personally involved - the captains of mainline and the captains of the regionals. These groups just showed solidarity to their respective pilot corps.

This one will be very different.

For once the economic framework has chanced. LCC has become the standard in short and medium haul. Management of the legacy carriers has no real choice, if they want their companies to stay in that sector. They need to get their cost to the market standard – and this time it is LCC defining this standard.
Income from Long Range Business can compensate, but only to some extend.

So the war between copilots and management will be tough this time.
But what is more is a bitter struggle of different pilot groups which is soon to follow.

This is very different to the US. regionals. Flying there is a sort of necessary step in pilots training to get into a mainline carrier. Thus every fight of the mainline Copilots for scope does in fact help the regional captains. The more planes in the mainline, the less time these captains have to fly for the regionals.

In Europe there is no regular career leading from regional to mainline. A former military pilot for example does not fit into the ab-inito system of the legacy carriers. They train their copilots from scratch and have them on the right seat of an A320 with 250h total.

So if the military pilot does not want to become a lend-lease pilot rent out for Ryan et al. he has to seek a career at the regionals. That means harder work for less pay than in the mainline. Still after some years an Instructor Captain makes 110k+ per year. Enough to rise a family decently.

Former scope wars in Europe might not have had the support of the regional captains, but also no real resistance. After all they did not get bigger planes but the safety of their job was not in question. Scope was a problem for their copilots, delaying their upgrading.

This time it is different. The same change in the market with makes the costs of LCC the standard market costs for short and medium distance makes the 50 – 70 seat planes obsolete. Their cost per seat are too high to survive in the new LCC world.

And suddenly scope has become a matter of economic survival for the experienced Captains of regional airlines in Europe.

Now they desperately need the 100-120 seat class to keep a decent airline pilot job at all. They are too old and experienced to be accepted in a right seat. They will be afraid anticipating being a slave of brokers. They will not like the prospect of leaving their families for the Arabian Desert for the last 10 – 20 year of their career. Thus for the first time the regional captains cannot stand idle. They will have no choice but to fight scope.

This has the potential for a bitter and tragic struggle. Two highly professional pilot groups – the mainline copilots and the regional captains fighting each other. Fighting with their only and most effective weapon – stranding the customers.

And during all that bitter struggle Ryan, Easy, AB etc. will not stand idle.

If the mainline copilots prove victorious, the older regional captains will loose their jobs. Too old to learn something else they will have no choice but to buy a Typerating and fill the lines of the brokers catering to the LCC. As a result working conditions at these non seniority carriers will deteriorate further, thus enhancing the pressure on the costs of legacy carriers.

It’s a bitter civil war which European pilots could be facing in the next years. The unions will have a most responsible and challenging job to keep the balance and avoid a dark downward spiral.
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