View Full Version : Northwest Airlines Expands In Brutal Industry

4th Jan 2005, 03:51
Northwest Airlines Corp. remained one of the most financially sound carriers in the nation in 2004, largely due to cost cutting.

In January, then-CEO Richard Anderson asked pilots for concessions to help keep the Eagan-based carrier out of bankruptcy. In November, they reached a two-year deal that would save the airline $265 million per year, cutting pay 15 percent for its 5,300 pilots who earn upwards of $130,000 a year. Northwest executives also took a hit, but Anderson left in October for a position with UnitedHealth Group, Minnetonka. Northwest's new CEO is Doug Steenland.

Throughout the fall, Northwest aggressively took advantage of its rivals' weaknesses by adding several non-stop routes out of Milwaukee and Indianapolis.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport faced changes as well. The Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) voted in June to approve changes to the airport's retail and food and beverage concessions that are projected to more than double revenue to $20 million. Previously, MAC was contractually obligated to give priority to Bethesda, Md.-based HMSHost Corp. Several companies were awarded space under the new plan.

In September, Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Northwest announced a proposed $860 million expansion of the airport. Under the plan, several larger carriers, such as United Airlines and American Airlines, would move to the little-used Humphrey Terminal. The expanded Lindbergh Terminal would be reserved for Northwest and alliance partners, such as Delta Air Lines and Continental Airlines. The MAC in December delayed its vote on the expansion project, citing the need for more information.


Ignition Override
5th Jan 2005, 05:02
SpartanPilot 69:
Don't know where you get your salary figures, but most pilots in their first several years over at NWA gross much less than $100,000. I've seen their hourly pay scales, and this was before the pay cuts. Of course, the several hundred who are still laid off are paid nothing by NWA, which lowers the average pay much more...

Which media/internet group are you with?

The highest-paid US airline pilots, fleet by fleet, work for Southwest Airlines, and it has been heavily-unionized for years. The informed US press, as usual, seems to be quite ignorant of this ironic, key fact, regarding the low-cost airline leader.:8:=

5th Jan 2005, 06:18
>>The highest-paid US airline pilots, fleet by fleet, work for Southwest Airlines...<<

Are you sure <g>...

I realize these poor guys are freight dogs, not really airline pilots, but at least they are airline pilot rejects.

Who'd a thunk it?


Cargo pilots move atop industry pay ladder

Some fliers from financially troubled passenger airlines applying at UPS


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 01/04/05

In aviation's rigid hierarchy, air cargo pilots have always been a step below their passenger airline counterparts.

Air cargo pilots traditionally worked for smaller, less profitable companies, they primarily flew at night, and they earned less money.

Not anymore.

As passenger airlines have borne the brunt of post-9/11 furloughs and pay cuts, cargo carriers UPS and FedEx have moved to the top of pilot pay scales, and their wings have gained new luster. UPS says it's been inundated with thousands of applications for 100 new pilot positions — and many of the pilots looking for jobs are passenger airline fliers.

"Historically, we've seen a lot of pilots go from cargo to passenger airlines," said Kit Darby, founder of AIR Inc., an Atlanta-based pilot career counseling firm. "Now, for the first time, it's going the other way. And it may be a permanent change. Cargo has become a more desirable place to be."

UPS and FedEx are growing international companies that dwarf U.S. airlines in revenue, profit and stock value.And they are less threatened by oil price spikes because fuel is a smaller percentage of their overall costs, and they usually pass on increases to customers through surcharges.

Cargo carriers have been growing for the last three years as legacy passenger airlines have suffered their worst setbacks ever.

"Boxes aren't afraid to get on an airplane because of terrorism," Darby said. "And they don't get sick from SARS."

'A solid company'

About 10 percent of U.S. airline pilots work for cargo companies, so they are a relatively small group. But UPS and FedEx avoided furloughs during the post-9/11 free fall, and UPS has resumed hiring as shipping demand has grown.

Each airline has its own seniority list that determines the types of aircraft pilots fly, their schedules and their routes. It's rare for pilots to move from one major airline to another because they would have to start at the bottom of the pecking order.

But UPS says it's getting applications from passenger airline fliers in search of stability and security.

"There has been a big culture shift," said Mark Giuffre, a spokesman for UPS Airlines in Louisville, Ky. "Pilots are seeking UPS out because it's a solid company that provides pensions and historically has given pilots the chance for rapid career advancement and international flying."

UPS and FedEx are growing fastest in Asia and are adding trans-Pacific routes as quickly as they can get them. They are also adding new planes. FedEx is the first cargo company to order the Airbus A380, which will be the world's largest commercial jet when it starts flying next year.

UPS and FedEx pilots say their jobs are far from perfect.

UPS pilots are seeking pay, retirement and work rule benefits in federally mediated contract talks that have already stretched a year beyond their amendable date, and the two sides are just beginning to address thorny pay and work rule issues. The National Mediation Board has set a goal of finishing negotiations by the end of the first quarter.

FedEx pilots ditched their independent union two years ago and have joined the Air Line Pilots Association, which promises greater resources and a harder line in negotiations.

Gritty side of life

Chuck Patterson, 48, a UPS MD-11 captain who used to fly passengers at Allegheny Airlines, says cargo pilots fly demanding day/night schedules and work in gritty, industrial areas that few airline passengers ever see.

"One thing I miss about passenger flying is seeing the same faces, the same gate agents, the same passengers on certain trips," he said. "We work on the freight side of the airport. It's dark, it's dirty, and it's not a pleasant place to be."

The jobs are attractive, however, because UPS and FedEx are financially sound and growing.

"Pilots are looking for long-term stability," Patterson says. "We don't know until the day we retire whether we made the right choice."

Brian Gaudet, spokesman for the Independent Pilots Association, which represents UPS fliers, says some passenger airline pilots still earn more than cargo fliers on a per-trip basis. But he says pilots widely recognize that air cargo companies have a better, more durable business model.

"They've realized companies can make far more money loading small packages and cargo on airplanes than filling them with passengers that require legroom, drinks and entertainment," he said.

Gaudet said UPS pilots are determined to negotiate a labor contract that "reflects their contributions to the company's success."

"It's a backhanded compliment to say that we're the highest-paid in the industry," he said.

"The passenger carriers have taken some big steps back. We're determined to step forward."


6th Jan 2005, 09:48
How is the 'per hour' figure on that site arrived at? Is it per hour flown - chock to chock? Or per duty hour? Whats included? Is it just basic pay, or are 'extras' included.

Its pretty hard to read anything into those tables unless you are told how the numbers are calculated.
Using just my own block hours, no extras included, I made 373 USD per hour last year! ;) Can't be right.....

Shore Guy
6th Jan 2005, 21:00
posted 5th January 2005 07:18 by Airbubba

I realize these poor guys are freight dogs, not really airline pilots, but at least they are airline pilot rejects.

Who'd a thunk it?


Normally, when someone says something incredibly stupid and/or offensive, I’ll give them time to retract. You have had your 12 hours.

You obviously have little knowledge of the industry….or, did you get turned down and are a bit bitter? Pilots for the major package companies are screened/hired at standards equal to or greater than their passenger carrying counterparts.

Are there “freight dog” outfits out there? You bet. But do not paint this industry with such a broad brush.

6th Jan 2005, 21:09
Dont know if you are tongue in cheek or not.
However, somewhat simplistically:
"Pay hours". Basically block hours, but can be over-ridden in a given rotation by several factors (rigs). ( Rigs are usually applied to both duty time and committed time)
Duty time rigs range from about 1.75 to 1 to 2.5 to 1. Divide DT by rig to get pay hours.
Committed time rigs range from 3.5 to 1 to 4 to 1.
Divide CT by rig to get pay hours.

Multiply the min.guarantee hours by the hourly rate to get basic "monthly" pay. (Even if you only do 50 pay hours you get paid the min guarantee.)

A "month" could be either a calendar month or a 28 day month.

Your effective hourly rate could be from very low hours or very high pay. Hope its the latter!

6th Jan 2005, 21:52
What next, 12 hours to rename the "Freight Dogs" forum here on PPRuNe?

See: http://www.pprune.org/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=&forumid=41

As the article begins:

"In aviation's rigid hierarchy, air cargo pilots have always been a step below their passenger airline counterparts..."

Don't shoot the messenger <g>.

Ignition Override
8th Jan 2005, 04:45
Shore Guy: I'm quite sure that Airbubba (who flies jets for a good company) meant it 'tongue-in-cheek'. He is resourceful, and although he might be a miserable, unlettered, unwashed 'colonial', who might be too uncultured to use his knife to push food onto an upside down fork, posts many interesting airline industry facts on Pprune, along with another frequent partner-in-crime, Wino ('Union Goon'), another contemptible 'provincial' :yuk: /;) .

Anyone with years of flying in the US airline scene is also well aware of the old-fashioned, outdated image that freight pilot/dogs might have among the more ignorant laymen. Watching the new movie "Flight of the Phoenix" might not improve that supposed image. What American company, these days, would operate an ancient C-119, which had its heyday in Korea and Dien Ben Phu (Civil Air Transport, ehm...)?

The interesting fact is that a good freight airline, along with three or four passenger carriers in the US (SWA, JetBlue, Airtran and Alaskan...?), might be the only place to now work with any apparent job security. Maybe the NetJet type of fractional, charter companies are also a very good choice, even if there is less salary potential. Pilots here in the US are usually being subtle and ironic when they refer to the freight dog image, knowing that this is the industry sector which might have the best future. I'm envious of those who fly freight for a healthy company at a respectable salary and can even fly during the daytime!

Oh well, some of those folks still believe in air pockets, that smaller planes are not as safe as large ones := , have navigators:8 , and that we always spend two or three days in exotic cities (Saginaw, MI or Bismarck, ND in January, by a nasty old shopping mall in Norfolk, VA) :uhoh: , escorted by young, voluptuous, single flight attendants.