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Letter from a 49'r

Rumours & News Reporting Points that may affect our jobs or lives as professional pilots. Also, items that may be of interest to professional pilots.

Letter from a 49'r

Old 17th Aug 2001, 05:16
  #21 (permalink)  
 
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HotDog---
Have read the newsitem before, and it would appear that the CX pilots simply are unable to accept the fact that EVERY airline in Asia is in the middle of a cost-cutting exercise. Cathay is no different. The gravy train is no more. CX pilots will just have to accept these facts or will always be bitter and frustrated. No amount of posturing by the AOA will change these circumstances.
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Old 17th Aug 2001, 05:20
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OH! and BTW, one of the 49'ers, and his wife, are personal friends of mine who learned of his dismissal while on vacation with the 3 kids!

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Old 17th Aug 2001, 05:54
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A Tristar operation in 2001. That ought to be hugely profitable. NOT!
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Old 17th Aug 2001, 06:21
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I was parked next to a CX A340 the other day at Anchorage. The CX plane was flying to Toronto which I believe is a 6 hours flight. I read about all the whinging and bitching about CX being so short of pilots here on Pprune. If it is true, why did they roster 1 capt. and 2 Senior F/O's (3 full stripes on the shoulder) on a 6 hour flight?
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Old 17th Aug 2001, 07:07
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Are you sure it was going to YYZ, and not on the way back to HKG?

If in fact it was going to YYZ with 3 crew, then one of them was obviously deadheading. There are often freighter guys paxing on that sector.

If however there were 3 crew activley involved in the operation, then the a/c was on the way back to HKG.
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Old 17th Aug 2001, 07:37
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Whilst I have every sympathy with a group of pilots being treated in this manner,it does seem to me that none of you have taken on board the fact that you are all expats working for a foreign airline in a foreign country and in the same way as other Airlines such as SIA,Royal Brunei,Qatar,Saudia,Gulf Air,Emirates,Kuwait,Oman and now Cathay!!,these are all based in Authoritarian countries where you basically put up and shut up or leave. I cannot imagine any pilots in these companies mentioned thinking that they could get away with the action you guys have been taking these last few months.
From Cathay's point of view sacking 49\52 has worked wonders as Tony Tyler claims all chartered aircraft are being returned and nobody wants to NO 53 so I guess that no one is calling in sick now unless they are in the operating theatre!!
Welcome to the unpleasant world, and it gives me no satisfaction insaying this.
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Old 17th Aug 2001, 08:21
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There comes a time when you either have to sh!t or get off the pot.
What must be understood is that there IS life after CX.
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Old 17th Aug 2001, 09:21
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>>From Cathay's point of view sacking 49\52 has worked wonders as Tony Tyler claims all chartered aircraft are being returned and nobody wants to NO 53 so I guess that no one is calling in sick now unless they are in the operating theatre!!<<

Yep, it looks like it's all over but the shouting...

The time for direct pilot input has long gone it seems. As one of my friends there says, "the union has already been busted". Looks like the marches in uniform and tardy PR effort to portray the sacked as prominent local citizens involved in charitable works has has little effect.

I would love to be wrong on this one.
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Old 17th Aug 2001, 12:02
  #29 (permalink)  
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The opinions expressed above are extraodinary. Even as I write this the debacle that has become CX is rapidly worsening. Most flights are cancelled or are massively delayed. While I appreciate that you may have a certain closed-minded view, have any of you even read the Hong Kong press (which is biased towards CX) or the HKAOA press releases (which are biased towards the AOA)? Neither of these sources is so blase as some of the responses above; both report the numbers of delayed and cancelled flights which clearly show this industrial action is building.

You express certainty that is at such odds with the actual numbers of delayed and cancelled flights, and the empty seats of the ones still flying. Anyone believing you would think that CX was still flying a normal schedule, that there has been no industrial action whatsoever. If you know something pertinent then by all means say so; but if you don't know anything at all, and have made no efforts to find out, then making it up is merely going to make you look foolish.

BTW Airbubba, your comment "...tardy PR effort to portray the sacked as prominent local citizens involved in charitable works ..." belittles these men. They have truly spent much time and effort in this work; some of the children they have helped have been very special cases and something that most of us would find difficult to respond to without an inner sense of revulsion. (I tell it like it is, I don't intend any disrespect to any parent out there who is in this position). The amount donated, all by CX pilots, flight engineers and simulator instructors, is incredible. The honour recently awarded to the founder of this outstanding charity is pretty rare, and most deserved. I hope you amend your posting, it is undeserved criticism and repugnant.

[ 17 August 2001: Message edited by: Chris ]
 
Old 17th Aug 2001, 12:29
  #30 (permalink)  
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I've just read the Far East Economic Review article, and it makes a great deal of sense to me.

If you're running a company with high overheads and your competitors are lean and mean, one of two things have to happen. If you continue as you are, you'll go bust; and if you want to stay in business, you need to trim costs.

CX's pay scales (especially the A scale) were notorious for being the best in the business - in order to attract crews in the days when the expat lifestyle wasn't as normal as it is today. It was part of the Swire Group culture which has now all but disappeared post 1997.

According to the article, the crux of the problem seems to be the issue that has really crippled the industry - that of seniority. The union's position is that any contract crews have to join the seniority list at the bottom - regardless of their experience; and as it rightly says, this results in a lose:lose situation for both the company and the union with no end in sight.

Most people don't realise how low operating margins of airlines are.

Above all, it's a fight being waged against the backdrop of radically changing economics in the airline industry. Rapid growth in airline fleets in the 1990s--both in Asia and in the rest of the world--has turned the supply-and-demand equation on its head. Too many aircraft have knocked passenger yields and profit margins at the world's carriers ever lower--on average,
most commercial airlines squeak by with profit margins of just 2%-3% of revenues. But at the same time, the growth has also created a worldwide shortage of pilots, demanding higher pay even as the world economy slows. In North America, pilots' salaries have jumped at double-digit rates this year, just as the airlines brace for a sharp drop in demand.
My views on the insane pay demands by the likes of pilots working for LH, DL, UA, AA etc are well known - and whilst it is true that employment costs are only the second or third highest component of an airline's costs, that 2% gross margin can be wiped out very, very quickly with any minor change whether it's increased overheads in the form of pay or decreased revenues in the form of a reduction in the number of business passengers paying high yielding full fares.

On the other hand, the poor rostering and lack of crews has taken its toll on CX's pilots. But that's largely due to the unions demanding that the seniority system be retained - if that was scrapped, then putting in place the extra crews and producing workable rosters would be very straightforward.

As an outsider, I'd suggest the following solution:

1) Scrap the existing seniority system in favour of one where there's incremental pay increases based on time worked at the company.

2) Recruit additional pilots and slot them in based on their experience and expertise.

3) Limit reserve time to no more than one in four; with the reserve time being rostered a minimum of three months in advance - and increase reserve pay rates to 1:3 or 1:2.

It seems clear to me that both sides are currently at fault. The union for its usual Luddite attitude to change - especially regarding the seniority system; and management for treating their people poorly over the rostering/reserve issue.

As for the 49/52 - we still haven't heard both sides of that story. Were they the most militant people; those blocking possible progress and/or compromise? Or were they genuinely chosen at random? If so, why?

I suspect that this particular show is going to run and run...
 
Old 17th Aug 2001, 13:16
  #31 (permalink)  
 
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Chris is right.Anyone who believes the confrontation is over is out of touch.

CX stands on the verge of becoming either the best place to work in the aviation business or a tombstone to human folly.

Indeed it is now at what might loosely be called the "Club Buggery" stage (after that well known Australian TV program).

The issues have become clouded by the emotion and lack of trust. It is fast getting to the stage where both sides would rather watch the place burn down than call the fire department.

Like an acrimonious divorce, it may well be too late but there are too many livelihoods at stake to give up without a renewed effort to re-open the channels of communication.

What is needed is two lists of 5 things each party wants.

Get a red pen and cross out the four things on each list that can wait till next week.

We then have one thing each that we want. If that bridge can't be crossed then the company deserves to go down the shanks.

Once we have one thing each, then the list is down to four. The degree of difficulty has been reduced by 20 percent.

As long as one side continues to be portrayed as a bunch of overpaid and pampered gweilos and the other side a bunch of upperclass pompous twits then all deserve to persh on the pyre of stupidity. (With respect to Phillip Chen and the great bunch of local pilots, the first group of whom are ironically, now just coming up for command training).

There is goodwill. It's the trust that's missing.
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Old 17th Aug 2001, 14:15
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Agree that the FEER article is the most balanced report I have read on this issue.

My question to those in the know is:
How does the IFALPA ban on recruiting mere SO's help the AOAs position?

A new SO is not going to help management at all.... training alone will 3-4 months.

AOA will be successful (and surely wants CX to be successful) Surely the SOs you get in the door now are the crews you need, post this action, to get the airline on its feet again. (FEER states several times that the AOA answer is more pilots.)

Hyperthetically, if management agreed tomorrow to AOAs demands..... could you realistically employ the new standards without these crew in the pipeline?

Please dont slam my arguments outright. I simply want to know how the IFALPA ban meant to help?

Preventing DE Capts and FOs I understand but the applicability of SOs....not so sure?
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Old 17th Aug 2001, 20:09
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Having seen the reaction of the CAD to the L1011s once serviced by HAECO on their first or second flights into HKG, (a/c grounded until maintenance carried out to CAD satisfaction) I hope that 411a's heavy maintenance is just that. There is no economical way that a Tristar can compete in Asia against the 777/330 combinations of CX and the like. Not just due to maintenance and gas prices, but the perception of the travelling public about old aircraft. One of the reasons that CX and SQ are so popular amongst Asias pax are the new fleets used by both. You ain't going to get rich ferrying domestic helpers around 411a.....the rest of the asian travelling public are a little more discerning than you are used to I suggest.......
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Old 17th Aug 2001, 20:25
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StopStart:
The perception of the public is that:
1. They wouldn't know the airframe difference, only, once inside, whether it's single aisle or twin aisle, whether there is enough room in the overhead and under the seat to stow all the carry on baggage; whether the seat is comfortable and how much legroom and elbow room prevails.
2. The cost of the ticket.
3. Day, date and time of departure/arrival.
4. Will the flight be on time?
5. Will checked baggage arrive simultaneously?
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Old 18th Aug 2001, 00:02
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My deepest sympathies HERB,facing a similar kind of managent here although only one of my colleges has been fired I know what you are saying.The pilot union has been banned and our working agreement throwen in the dust bin,the MD has no idea of what an airline is all about and who are the people that make it happen every day.The flight duty times dont exhist any more and the part that hurts the most is it is our own people who turn aginst us when given managment posts.Good luck to you and remember,it is by gods will we come into this world and he will provide.
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Old 18th Aug 2001, 00:38
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100 % AOA...PLAY GOLF!

...and as for GUV and 411A, FOXTROT OSCAR!!!!
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Old 18th Aug 2001, 00:48
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Truth hurts, eh, busdriver25?

(Actually, I thought I'd been rather impartial on this one... ah well, can't please everyone!)

[ 17 August 2001: Message edited by: The Guvnor ]
 
Old 18th Aug 2001, 02:37
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Guvnor,

P155 OFF
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Old 18th Aug 2001, 03:57
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jtr:

I was parked next to the A340 and had to walk pass it to get to my own plane. The sign displayed at the gate showed YYZ as the destination and I saw the 3 pilots and the F/A's boarded the plane at the same time. Do you guys wear your uniform when you deadhead? If you are deadheading, wouldn't you board the plane at the same time as the regular pax?
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Old 18th Aug 2001, 04:04
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We wear our uniforms when deadheading as we are on the Gen dec. We also board with the operating crew and we usually help out with the paperwork or whatever needs to be done. After all, the pilots are all on the same team.
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