View Full Version : low cost pilots compared to flag carriers

21st Aug 2002, 09:27
According to last weeks Flight Int low cost pilots work 25 percent harder and get paid 25 percent less.
Therefore Low cost pilots should be on more than Flag carriers wages.
Southwest are getting a 20percent pay rise in the states and they are profitable.
Its time for a decent rise this side of the pond.:cool:

21st Aug 2002, 11:27
Last year I flew just short of 850 hours in command of BA 777's and that was with no overtime or extra flights. For this I got a basic of £66k and made about £22k in flight pay and ex's. I could have course fitted two more trips in to Buenos Aires but as I am not senior enough that remains a dream........

21st Aug 2002, 11:35
Nice opening statement - Don't give us percentages, give us NUMBERS . How can a shorthaul pilot doing 750 hours a year, legally do another 25%? Because that is the average hours I have done for the last 4 years as a S/H BA pilot.

A statistician is a man who can have his a#se in a freezer and his head in an oven and say "overall the temperature is average".

Anyway, here's one I have for you. If BA payed the same proportion of their annual wage budget to its pilots as EasyJet, I'd double my wages! Now thats a statistic!

21st Aug 2002, 11:43
Land ASAP.
The article was from Flight,not me.
BA isnt profitable EASYJET is.
Therefore we are due a payrise as you are not.
Happy now.:cool:

21st Aug 2002, 12:30
A statistician is a man who can have his a#se in a freezer and his head in an oven and say "overall the temperature is average".

Land ASAP that is a brilliant quote! In fact its so good I wrote it down! :D

Hope the EASY and FR guys do go for a big rise...it'll level the playing field somewhat.

21st Aug 2002, 15:08
Wow, that's really sad. I have friends flying 73s for low-cost carriers making more than a BA 777 captain. Now that's a low cost pay scale.

21st Aug 2002, 15:32
>>Wow, that's really sad. I have friends flying 73s for low-cost carriers making more than a BA 777 captain. Now that's a low cost pay scale.<<

Absolutely true. Wages and work rules outside the U.S. are often pathetic compared to what we enjoy at the majors.

Even with concessions, our pay has skyrocketed over the past decade while elsewhere things have been in a time warp or even dropped. The legend of CX pilots being the highest paid in the world no longer seems to be true from what my friends there tell me.

I had an SQ 777 captain recently tell me he makes about US$100K, taxable. Such a salary for a widebody captain (or even FO) in the U.S. would be laughable at a major airline.

Agaricus bisporus
22nd Aug 2002, 15:10
Its interesting how differently wages/value can be described depending on one's perspective.

Original post said "lo cost guys work 25% harder and get paid 25% less.

Poor ETOPS got "only" £88K for 850 hrs per year, despite that being perhaps no more than 80 - 100 sectors in a hassle free company where everything is organised for you, top quality support, 5*hotac, rostering agreements etc. Sure, if he worked for Air France or Iberia he'd have earned more for less. Shame.

Land ASAP has come up with the quote of the year re beancounters - bravo!

But we short haul lo-costers work like ethnic-minorities, 12 hrs on, 12 hrs off, 90hrs per month, early starts after days off, late finishes before, no food, no mileage to go 100 miles to the sim, pay for uniforms, pay for medicals and do the same number of sectors that poor ETOPS does in a year every ten weeks....And those "assisted" by monkeys who cannot get tugs, stairs, baggage or ambilifts to the aircraft on time if at all, or get a loadsheet right half the time and yet we are still expected to achieve a 25 min turnaround! BA folks, 850 hrs is hardly the point, it is how you get there that counts.

No, I don'd begrudge anyone what they can earn (unless their name is O'leary) but there are no harder and less appreciated workers in the industry than the lo-cost operators, and few with less desireable working routines and lifestyles.

I'm not convinced that we are actually paid badly, but we sure as hell are not treated well, and all the signs are that we can expect far far worse in future.

22nd Aug 2002, 19:43
" there are no harder [working] and less appreciated workers in the industry than the low-cost operators" ..?
Beg to differ, ever tried North Sea helicopters? Same idiots to deal with, weather mostly horrible, flying on the edge of the performance envelope on a regular basis and even less pay..no wonder we have an exodus of disgruntled pilots.

But at least the flying is real flying and fun :D

22nd Aug 2002, 21:01
Agaricus bisporus

I'm touched by your concern, but at the time it felt like hard work.
These days BA is not a "hassle free" company. I won't bore you with the details but these days I dislike coming to work some days because of the "rubbish" I am subjected to. Accomodation down route is very variable. At the top end we stay at some extremely comfortable 5* pubs but there are more than the fair share of dumps as well - Sheraton Woodbridge EWR for example. Even at some of the better hotels we get poor treatment from the staff despite my best efforts at "diplomacy".

As for top quality support - when I first joined BA that was certainly true. But it costs! Over the years the backroom staff have been shafted more than the pilots and reduced to virtually zero.

The main point about my work rate in BA is that it took me away from home so many nights and as a junior pilot I missed many of the important days in my kids year. The money is't everything but it should at least provide a decent living for the wife and kids whilst I'm "sunning" myself in YUL (December) or dodging bullets in CCS.

I really believe that my efforts at BA are worth £100K gross and that an extra £12000 per year is worth fighting for........

Stu Bigzorst
22nd Aug 2002, 21:23
Mmmmm. My co has the some of the priciest tickets around - yet £17k + £130 per month (typ) is what I'm on...

Just thought I'd mention this, as the £60 - £100k lads start to moan. Still, one day soon I'll be there!


22nd Aug 2002, 21:43
I think that most pilots regardless of company work very hard. For info I am an SFO with over 4000 BA jet hours and have flown about 750 hours in the last twelve months. Average sector length at my base is about 1hour 15 minutes. These sectors are all generally flown flat out to make schedual, I guess if they were operated at the planned speed you might want to add 40 more hours. A couple of times over the last few years i have hit the 30 days off requirement in 12 weeks and have peaked at 88 hours plus a two day sim in a 28 day block and 60 hours in a 17 day block following some leave. The hassel level is increasing rapidly too, but I am very lucky our schedualing agreement offers some limited protection to lifestyle and I do not have to fly through the night which must be very difficult.

For comparison I earn now about 45k plus allowances of 15k per annum before tax. I started on 18k +7k allowances 7 years ago.

So whats is my point. As a pilot we work in a highly competative industry that has had to dramatically cut costs over recent years to enable cheap tickets to be provided to fuel the rapid increase in passenger numbers. Regardless of company our day to day life is becoming harder and the gap between the best and the worst is perciveived to be getting smaller. Most of us are pilots because we were attracted to flying and it was a bonus that if you worked for a big airline pay and conditions were (once apon a time) pretty good.

As a profession if we are seen externally as a group of "so called intelligent professionals" who continually blast their fellow colleuges who work for different companies or different fleets within the same company, then I think we will end up with a poor reputation with the public and less able to justify improvements. Divided we stand divided we fall.....

We need to appretiate that all pilots are working harder than ever, even if some are working harder than others and I think this needs to be adressed as a collective profession not on an individual company basis.

There are currently some masive issues affecting all of us and we would do ourselves great favours and scare the life out of our employees if we are seen as a united group.

(I also believe that we must also make sure that every aeroplane that is based in the UK is registered in the UK and is operated by a crew who hold commercial licence of respectable origin.)

Safe Landings

22nd Aug 2002, 22:12
The reason that many pilots are on such a poor deal is exactly that -we don't show a united front. Even in this thread just look how many pilots are only interested in taking a cheap and unfair dig at BA pilots rather than discuss how to win better terms and conditions for pilots generally.

Norman Stanley Fletcher
22nd Aug 2002, 22:45
Very interesting discussion - with everyone coming down on predictable sides of the fence.

A year ago I was a Training Captain in a small regional turboprop outfit earning £40k pa with no duty pay. I was extremely grateful because not many years previously I had earnt £19.5k as a turboprop FO. On a number of occasions I had had to stop flying because I had reached the 100hrs/28 day limit. That particular year I flew 897 hours. Virtually all my colleagues were in exactly the same boat. I am now an A320 FO earning about £40k pa including allowances (plus better pension, medical etc) and am still very grateful. If I am lucky I will get a command in about 3 years and earn £60k pa plus allowances. My lifestyle is significantly better than it was previously and I have a lot less responsibility.

What is the point of this? Well like everyone else I have tried to advance up the ladder to support my wife and children and also feel I have achieved somethin. I have done better than some and worse than others. The bottom line is I am 'worth' whatever I can persuade my employers to pay me. I daresay a Yakovlev captain in Yemen or somewhere would be unbelievably glad to get to have my deal, but a BA pilot might look down his nose at my particular circumstances. The danger we face is thinking that we have an 'absolute' value in life. We do not, and should not be so foolish to think that we are more valueable than we are. Last September most of us were just extremely glad to have a job of any kind and felt that if we could avoid umeployment we had done well. As things picked up we started to think that we were actually very important and 'deserved' more. We are, alas, a commodity and the market dictates our value.

Pilots at Delta, United, CX et al have managed to get fantastic deals in the past - and best of luck to them. (They may also find themselves on their bikes and unemployed before long which is the downside.) These pilots are not 'better' or 'more important' than the rest of us. Market forces prevailing at the time enabled them to get a good deal on the day. BA pilots are starting to feel a sense of their own self-worth and again best of luck to them if they can persuade Rod of just what fine chaps they all are. easyJet/Ryanair pilots think they work harder than the rest of the world and so they should get more. The bottom line is that you get what you get and if you do not like it you look around and move somewhere better. I would not be so foolish as to say who is worth more than anyone else.

I have made the mental choice to be happy with my lot, and I feel a lot better for it. We can all wish our lives away believing we are not being recognised for our importance. We are in a market place and if we become scarce we will earn more and if we become too plentiful then we will get paid less. Wealth is not an absolute concept - it is completely relative, and for better or worse I see myself as wealthy. The real issue here is differentials. We like to see ourselves that bit better of than our contemporaries. By definition there can only be one top dog and the rest must look up jealously and dream. I am not saying we should never fight for better terms and conditions, but I feel a slight check in saying that we should consider ourselves downtrodden and unappreciated.

But for all you guys out there who believe you are worth more than you are getting - I hope you get what you feel you deserve. In the words of Paul Getty - when asked what he needed to be happy he replied, "just a little bit more!"

22nd Aug 2002, 23:29
Wise words Norm. A very Zen approach to your employment. Perhaps EasyJet pilots have at least got their colour scheme right if they are to follow the Buddhist approach that you recommend?

The thing is, Norm, is that you work for a small cosy company doing a snippet of BA's routes in A/C painted in BA's colours. You all enjoy your role because not only are you paid well (As good as a BA 320 Captain) but you work with happy people. Happy because they can look at their noisy neighbours in the Compass centre and think inverted snobbish thoughts. Happy because you will usually know the person you are flying with. Happy because nearly all the C/C you fly with are polite, courteous and enjoy your company, not resentful, sullen and discourteous. Happy because your management realise that you, as commander, can be left to make decisions that can minimise delay, rather than have each and every department involved say "I need to have that confirmed by department X/Y/Z etc".

So, Norman. I, on most days, go to work with a smile on my face, and on far to many, I return with a frown.

It's hard to be Zen with the metaphorical spit of British Airways beaurocracy floating in my tea.

Hand Solo
22nd Aug 2002, 23:57
Well its a good job you joined GB and not BA then Norm. Our DEPs start on about £31k, possibly getting up to £40k with allowances, then stay there for about 5 years. There is no likelihood of an LHR command in less than 7 years, and no chance of earning £60K+ in three years. Also, you don't have to spend a third of your year away from home in order to make your £40K. I'm willing to be corrected on this as well but I bet you don't have to be on a crew bus at 04:45 very often either.

23rd Aug 2002, 01:44
I think Fletch has made some very valid points and with honesty and emotion. I would very much like to see the drivers at BA have an increase in pay, it doesn’t diminish my standing and may help to elevate the pilot community as a whole. The battle between Delta and United for the highest pay raised the standard for all the majors. Those gains are now in the process of being relinquished, but it has expanded the possibilities and set a precedent for when the industry grows. Again, I didn’t fight for those gains, but may have indirectly benefited. Obviously, my opinions are colored from the vantage point of the flight deck, and are reflective thereof.

Son Of Piltdown
23rd Aug 2002, 06:13
The whole pay and conditions issue would be best served by strong trade union representation.

When is BALPA coming back on the rails with a new General Secretary?

Gossip anyone?

Miss Management
23rd Aug 2002, 07:15
I work for an airline, where my average hours are 600-650 per annum. £62K basic divided by 650 = £95.00 - £103.00 per hour. That's decent enough.
What are YOUR wages per hours flown?

23rd Aug 2002, 07:21
What a wonderful phrase from %Mac, 'Those gains are now in the process of being relinquished' What pray does that mean? That having driven the company to bankruptcy reality is setting in?

23rd Aug 2002, 08:00
From today's 'Times'

Flying into trouble
Are budget airlines cutting too many corners in the name of price competition?

AIR travel involves a complicated interaction of aircraft systems, ground and air personnel, weather and air traffic organisations, little of which is controlled by any individual airline. Its consequent vulnerability to disruption is predictable on a long-term basis — but not hour by hour. We know it will sometimes be foggy in winter, but not exactly where and when.
Airline professionals assume plans will go wrong, and prepare by having “reserves”. Some affecting safety are required by regulation, but most aren’t. To deal with aircraft defects, you need spare aircraft, and air traffic control delays require reserves of crew flying hours. To land in fog requires pilots to be trained, aircraft with special equipment, and airports with extra facilities. Although most of the time these reserves are unused, they still have to be paid for, and account for a significant part of most airlines’ costs, spread over all its passengers.

Many low-cost airlines just ignore potential disruption: then they can minimise costs by not having these reserve facilities. When many predictable problems actually occur, the cost of dealing with them — meals, accommodation, lost time, alternative travel — is simply dumped on the passengers affected. In addition, the absence of reserves always puts additional pressure on everyone involved in making decisions, when flight safety must be balanced against increased costs.

“Full service” airlines are far from perfect, with many inefficiencies that were ignored until “low-cost” carriers started taking away their passengers. But don’t be fooled by low-cost airline claims that their combination of “low fares and high profits” are solely because of their greater efficiency. Some of their profits come from the pockets of an unfortunate minority of their passengers, who are actually bearing a significant part of the airlines’ real costs. But with no collective voice, it just never gets counted. We can only hope that regulation is sufficient to ensure that safety isn’t seriously eroded at their expense too.

Captain Steve Last, Marlow,

A smile costs nothing

STEVE KEENAN (T2, August 14) tars all no-frills airlines with the same brush. I find Michael O’Leary’s comments about customer service at Ryanair appallingly conceited, and insulting to his staff. But I do not believe that they are accepted by at least some other no-frills airlines.

Within this airlines sector, despite the heavy competition, there is a clear distinction between the attitude and position of, say, Go (and perhaps buzz) on the one hand, and on the other, the attitude of easyJet and Ryanair. Go staff, led directly from the top by Barbara Cassani, clearly demonstrate that, for the most part, giving excellent customer service is part of the organisation’s ethos.

It costs nothing to treat people properly, keep them informed, tell them the truth, and be compassionate and understanding. Mr O’Leary would seem to believe that even these matters of common good manners have a cost to them, and somehow are an added extra.

I’d guess that his staff, like most others, are actually pretty good at giving great “customer service” to their family and friends when they are at home or at leisure. It is only when they go to work that they have to adopt an unnatural attitude towards their customers.

Of course, if he actually trains them to be this bad, he could stop doing it and save himself some money.

Paul A. Cooper, Clare, Suffolk

Son Of Piltdown
23rd Aug 2002, 09:15
I reckon it is only a matter of time before someone in a low cost airline tells the story of management pressure on time keeping.

This is an issue awaiting public examination:

'Budget pilots screwed by bosses over delayed flights'

23rd Aug 2002, 22:12
Methinks Capt Last works for a high cost airline. What a load of arrogant cr*p.

Ignition Override
24th Aug 2002, 04:34
Just a few question from a colonial. What is the minimum "pay credit " guarantee for a day's flying for various British/Irish airlines? Some airlines here in the US have a 4:15 minimum or maybe a 5:00 average for narrowbody flying. With a 4:15 minimum (on easier days with just two or three fairly short legs), we get the extra if we exceed that by any amount. Many days can be 5:40 or even worth 6:00 plus, especially on the longer range narrow bodies etc.

If your month begins with a 78 hour projection, is this your minimum pay even if the company cancels a couple of legs (or you refuse to accept a plane with an inop APU or no autopilot, maybe manual presurization, requiring some "solo flying") or you are sick for a two-day trip?

Do airline contracts over there have duty rig and trip rig? Ratios of one credit hour per X.XX duty hours or trip hours. One of the exceptions to the need for this is Southwest, which spends very little time sitting at a hub, requiring no rig, which many contracts use, to force the company into being more productive with crews. If they are less productive with us, this means less days off, on average. More days off spent commuting to work.

Or do these questions translate well into the lingo over there?

Son Of Piltdown
24th Aug 2002, 07:19
>>Or do these questions translate well into the lingo over there?<<

Ignition Override, there may be similar agreements in British Airways but I have not heard of anything similar in other UK airlines. I general you are payed an allowance per duty hour/sector which might be anything from £1.50 in a small company to sector pay of £20 per flight in a budget carrier. If the roster changes you simply get paid for what you actually do.

Is the employment culture in the US more rule based?

METO power
24th Aug 2002, 07:54
A lot of European Airlines pay a monthly salary. No matter if you fly 80 hours or nothing at all, you’ll get the same pay.

24th Aug 2002, 09:53
I'm working in a small european company which is right now trying to do this low-cost thing (dba, soon to be bought by easyjet).

We get a monthly pay for 67 bh, everything over 67bh is overtime and we get 110% of the basic pay for that (basic salary / 67 * 110 %). The basic pay is based on seniority with an advancement each year. To make it more confusing we get blockhours awarded for some things. We get 3 bhs per vacation day (you start with 39 days/year) and per standby day (one hour notice). For training we get at least 3bh or the actual training time. And we get 25% of the deadhead time. Our Flying block hours are the greater of actual, SWORD- or official flight plan time.

For example i'm planned to fly acutal about 57 block hours this month, but i'll get payed for at least 72 block hours.


24th Aug 2002, 11:10
Ignition Overide

Without getting into a long description of work allocation in BA, we do have something similar to your system but without the protection of guaranteed pay.

Take my September roster for instance (Capt B777 LHR).

The CAP (Target credit hours) was set at 88 for the month. The line of work I was allocated was not my first choice ( 64th in fact) and although it has 5 trips (SFO CAI EWR PHL MCO) the Credit for the line only totals 78 hours. The 2 East coast trips are low credit. Thus I am 10 hours short. My "hourly rate" at pay point 16 is GBP67 per hour thus BA will remove GBP670 (yes - take from my wages) because I failed to make CAP!
As these trips take up all the month there is no room for extra trips or overtime. Had I acheived a better line with more credit I could have used any surplus to add to my "bank" and thus ameliorated any shortfall in later months......

Norman Stanley Fletcher
24th Aug 2002, 17:24
Hand Solo et al: fear not - whatever else is true I am most definitely not into Zen Bhudism (is that how you spell it?)!

I also do recognise that whatever life might once have been at BA, it is no longer the case for many. I also accept that the problems between the pilots at the cabin crew are pretty serious at BA - a situation not helped by the pilots being week by the weakness of the pilot managers there. In my company we are extremely fortunate that we seem to have a great rapor between pilots and cabin crew in that we both recognise the hassles that the other has. I am sure that there are occasional difficulties but in the year that I have been there, I have yet to see any strop between the Flight Deck and Cabin Crew. The situation of pursers thinking they are second in command of the aircraft just does not arise, but nor does any suggestion that cabin crew are just 'trolley dolleys' either. Finally there is no doubt in my mind that BA guys are working extremely hard in a depressing situation.

My original point still stands however. We are only worth what we can persuade our employers to pay us. The constant striving to be the top of the payment tree can only lead to disappointment. Maybe I lack ambition, but the bottom line is that I have chosen to accept my lot and I feel better for it. I cannot help but feeling that a lot of you excellent people are heading for some serious stress as you struggle through the coming months. But best of luck anyway.