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Southwest Pilot Productivity

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Southwest Pilot Productivity

Old 11th Aug 2016, 14:30
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Southwest Pilot Productivity

I could've sworn there was a thread about SWA's IT meltdown and how the unions had cast a vote of no confidence in senior management as a result. Searched and couldn't find it so I gave up.

Here's an interesting bit sorta-kinda related:

https://airwaysmag.com/industry/busi...hest-paid-asm/

And, by the way, I am NOT taking either side...just thought it was good info about how the pilot side of the industry works.
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Old 11th Aug 2016, 14:48
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I am not in SW and I am not an analyst juggling metrics.
Two points on that hit piece against SW pilots, and a repeat of one pithy criticism made in the comments.
In fact if I had to summarize the above economic argument with a one liner, it’s that Southwest pilots want to be paid Boeing 777 wages to fly Boeing 737s.
This is one of those "figures lie and liars figure" bits of intellectual dishonesty that was called out by a few comments after the piece. When you assess his writing style, you find him treating "pilots" as a commodity, not as people. There's another working point that could use thoughtful consideration. Is it hours or sorties/sectors that demand the most from pilots? If I fly three sectors in 8 hours, or one sector in 8 hours, regardless of the cost efficiencies of the wide body (and there are many) the value the pilots provide goes beyond the author's narrow metric because each and every take off and landing represents a risk to the company, which is generally mitigated / prevented by the flight deck crew. They add value on each and every evolution in the terminal phase, two per sector, that he will not and cannot put into his metrics, most likely because he may understand dollars, but he doesn't understand flying.
At the end of the days, there is a strong moral hazard in allowing a group of employees to vote on the continuing employment of the people that set their wages.
This man does not understand why unions exists, nor does he apparently understand the term accountability. A very colonialist attitude toward labor. People who work for unaccountable managers get screwed. (That does not only apply to the air transport industry).
Pilots do not produce available seat miles. Therefore, most of this is not true. Sorry.
Interesting point on a flaw in the analytical model being used.
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Old 11th Aug 2016, 15:01
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Pilots do not produce available seat miles.
Really??? Then try doing it without them!
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Old 11th Aug 2016, 15:07
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Originally Posted by er340790
Really??? Then try doing it without them!
I think that the point being made there was in the scheduling and route structure of a given airline. The term "available" is the key. If it's not available, nobody will be flying it.
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Old 11th Aug 2016, 18:14
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Correct. "ASMs" as a basis for pilot compensation amounts to a "piece work" model. Like paying farm workers per bushel of cabbages picked, or coal miners per ton of coal mined, or as the old song goes, per banana loaded...

"Tally man, tally man, tally me ASMs. Daylight come and me wan' go home!"

A "piece work" pay model works - if the worker controls and is responsible for his own productivity. "There's a field of cabbages - you can spend 8 hours in it and pick one bushel and read a book, or spend 8 hours in it and pick 100 bushels. We'll only pay you for the bushels."

Or - "Here's a 737. Go out and fly it on any route(s) you want for 8 hours (or even leave it parked on the ramp), but we'll pay you only for every ASM you bring home."

"Uber in the skies with diamonds."

It is an "investor-class" metric. And it carries its own moral hazard, in that it absolves managers from having to work and plan very hard to efficiently use their human resources. Any darn-fool business model can work (once one gets past basic fixed costs), if workers are paid based on output, but have no control over their output.
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Old 11th Aug 2016, 22:51
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INDEED!!!!

comment was to Lonewolf 50, #4
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Old 11th Aug 2016, 22:59
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Lonewolf_50 , WORD! The bean counter not so much ....
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Old 13th Aug 2016, 22:56
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I've never understood the American model of paying more,as the plane grows bigger. Did medium haul in a 150 seater for many years. On a good day, I moved 550 pax. On a really bad day, 300. Now - why should the longhaul guy who on a good day, moved 300...get paid more??

S
Originally Posted by Lonewolf_50
I am not in SW and I am not an analyst juggling metrics.
Two points on that hit piece against SW pilots, and a repeat of one pithy criticism made in the comments.
This is one of those "figures lie and liars figure" bits of intellectual dishonesty that was called out by a few comments after the piece. When you assess his writing style, you find him treating "pilots" as a commodity, not as people. There's another working point that could use thoughtful consideration. Is it hours or sorties/sectors that demand the most from pilots? If I fly three sectors in 8 hours, or one sector in 8 hours, regardless of the cost efficiencies of the wide body (and there are many) the value the pilots provide goes beyond the author's narrow metric because each and every take off and landing represents a risk to the company, which is generally mitigated / prevented by the flight deck crew. They add value on each and every evolution in the terminal phase, two per sector, that he will not and cannot put into his metrics, most likely because he may understand dollars, but he doesn't understand flying.
This man does not understand why unions exists, nor does he apparently understand the term accountability. A very colonialist attitude toward labor. People who work for unaccountable managers get screwed. (That does not only apply to the air transport industry).
Interesting point on a flaw in the analytical model being used.
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Old 13th Aug 2016, 23:18
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I've never understood the American model of paying more,as the plane grows bigger. Did medium haul in a 150 seater for many years. On a good day, I moved 550 pax. On a really bad day, 300. Now - why should the longhaul guy who on a good day, moved 300...get paid more??
Liability. Why should a guy driving a $300,000 Ferrari pay more for insurance then a guy in a $14,000 Hyundai? Why would a family in a 12,000 sq ft house pay more insurance then a family in a 1,200 sq ft house? If a pilot is responsible for moving 300 people he carries a LOT more liability than a pilot moving 150.
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Old 14th Aug 2016, 00:26
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How about the pilot carrying 150 people 4 or 5 times a day versus the pilot carrying 300 or 400 once?
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Old 14th Aug 2016, 03:37
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And it is obviously an injustice that pilots at consistently profitable carriers like Southwest and even freight dogs at FedEx recently seem to make more and have better benefits than the Skygods at the OGA's, formerly bankrupt airlines like Delta, American and United.

Life is just so unfair...
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Old 14th Aug 2016, 04:16
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Nobody need be a lazy armchair judge (like many online periodicals) if they are actually interested. With a little searching (like one would do to find a good surgeon for that crotch surgery your sister needs) anyone can find the actual answers for themselves.
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Old 14th Aug 2016, 08:16
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I wouldn't do any searching for crotch surgery I promise you. One time my six year old searched for black mambas after a school project piqued his interest .... since then I have have thought long and hard before searching anything.
It is an "investor-class" metric. And it carries its own moral hazard.
Very true.
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Old 14th Aug 2016, 09:46
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The author of the piece did due diligence in responding to all squawks from the peanut gallery except one, actually two posts on the same subject of how the "MIT data" is skewed because of how SWA structures profit sharing with pilots (apparently back heavy and applied to retirement plans with the airline) compared to the remaining big three US airlines. Why do you suppose that is?

The ASM comparison argument used by the author seems to be already decided to be also a little off, both there in the comments, and here.
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Old 15th Aug 2016, 02:15
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SLF but a labor guy. I thought the original article was remarkably clueless, as many of the commenters made clear.

At the end of the days, there is a strong moral hazard in allowing a group of employees to vote on the continuing employment of the people that set their wages.
I've never heard free speech described as "moral hazard" before. Unless the vote of no confidence had any binding effect on the employment of senior management (and I doubt that it did), it was nothing more than an expression of opinion by the bargaining unit. A negotiating tactic? No doubt. But I suspect that SWA management spent some considerable money on PR firms to get articles like this one written - also a negotiating tactic. Whatever PR firm found this guy found the perfect mark.

The real flaw in the writer's argument is the idea that the link between productivity and wages is somehow a moral imperative (the "tell" is the air of moral outrage). It's not. Of course productivity has something to do with the wages that an employer can pay. But I guarantee you that there are plenty of people who work at Southwest who produce no revenue but get paid decent salaries nonetheless - it's in the nature of any complex enterprise that not everyone contributes to the bottom line.

What determines compensation (within obvious limits) is bargaining power. If Southwest pilots have more bargaining power than 777 pilots at other airlines (which, of course, includes working for an enterprise that they've helped make profitable over the years), then good for them if they are able to leverage that into higher wages - although it's questionable whether that's really happening in this case.

The author also misunderstands the nature of what pilots do. Anyone can fly airplanes. Airline pilots are paid to keep passengers safe, which is a different (and far harder) job. It's like asking about the productivity of firefighters, or crews on SSBM submarines. How does one quantify the productivity of workers whose job it is to prevent bad things from happening?
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Old 15th Aug 2016, 18:14
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The other tell was the standard appeal regarding unions as the devil children of Karl Marx.
One of the biggest fallacies in this country in how we discuss work and compensation is the notion that somehow wage rates are tied to input, or hours worked. This is a fallacy that we have Karl Marx and his labor theory of value to thank for, because the reality is that wage rates are instead determined by output, i.e. how much value is generated for the company as a result of your work.
As I called it, this hit piece on the pilots uses recognizable clichés and talking points.
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Old 15th Aug 2016, 21:05
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And the rebuttal from SWAPA:

https://airwaysmag.com/industry/swap...s-to-bhaskara/
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Old 15th Aug 2016, 21:36
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According to that logic, managers should be on pennies an hour while crew/engineers/gate staff/Pilots earn the big bucks.

If 90% of managers failed to show tomorrow the airplanes would still fly, if 90% of pilots failed to show, no planes would fly.
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Old 15th Aug 2016, 21:38
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Originally Posted by RHS
According to that logic, managers should be on pennies an hour while crew/engineers/gate staff/Pilots earn the big bucks.

If 90% of managers failed to show tomorrow the airplanes would still fly, if 90% of pilots failed to show, no planes would fly.
Which logic: the logic of the hit piece, or the logic of the rebuttal posted by SWAPA? I think you mean the former ...
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Old 16th Aug 2016, 09:40
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Hi Lonewolf, sorry that wasn't very clear who I was supporting. 100% with the SWA guys here.

It was toward the Karl Marx quote in the hit piece.
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