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Pilot lives....yes they matter

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Pilot lives....yes they matter

Old 9th Jul 2020, 21:32
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Pilot lives....yes they matter

I've been in an extreme state of shock at how the COVID-19 pandemic has and is unfolding across the planet. Without question, aviation has been brought to it's knees and with it the lives of millions of dedicated, hardworking, humans that make connecting the globe their life and livelihoods. The pandemic has laid bare systemic issues in every corner of our world. Racism, income inequality, gender dynamics, geopolitical chaos and corruption have all been paraded out in full force by the media to suit whatever left or right narrative they are spinning.
I can't help but be amazed at the complete and utter lack of coverage and oversight on an industry that is on the brink and is choosing to crucify it's workforce as a way forward through the pandemic. I am specifically alluding to the plight of pilots and the completely untenable position they have been placed in though no fault of their own.

Terms and conditions for aviators have been on the ropes for years. A pilot shortage was just starting to become a serious threat to the industry. With few exceptions, the industry reacted by squeezing productivity to the utter limits and lowering hiring standards to barely acceptable levels. The pandemic has turned out to be a moment of serendipity for the accountants and HR executives globally as they previously grappled to attract talent and provide competitive compensation to a dwindling pool of qualified candidates. One can almost hear them rubbing their hands together with a certain level of glee now that COVID-19 has solved their number one problem. The business of sending out lay off notices and redundancy letters is surely unpleasant, but can't go on forever and once through this bleak period, airlines will have pilots exactly where they have always wanted them.....in a corner and forced to accept whatever they are willing to provide, because, let's face it, where else will they work with their specialized skill set? NO ONE IS HIRING...ANYWHERE

I've tried to compare how other industries might react to the same predicament. It's hard to find a direct comparison. Aviation is just so specific and so susceptible to global events and economics. I did manage to give a colleague a scenario though. Imagine a hospital finding itself in a dire financial position brought on by uncontrollable external forces. The hospital management must do something to save the 'sinking ship', so to speak. Doctors are expensive, really expensive. How about we let go all our most senior and seasoned doctors, the ones with the most experience and knowledge but also the highest salaries, in favour of retaining all the residents and then hiring loads of nurse practitioners to deliver bulk medicine to the masses. Surely we would save loads of money. Lots of people would be served adequately by this model. Some would die, certainly, because their cases were too complex for physicians without the years of experience to decipher and treat properly, but that's the price we are willing to pay to save the hospital. The only problem is how the public might feel about all of this? I wonder what they would really think about being exposed to only the most novice of the industry because the spreadsheet just couldn't be balanced with the alternative? Obviously you see where I am headed with this.

The travelling public has no idea of the crisis that is currently coming to a cockpit near them. Beyond dumping seasoned veterans out like trash, the pilots left standing are expected to take much reduced salaries but continue on as the professional they are, safely operating the aircraft as if nothing has happened. Mortgages still need to be paid, kids through school and university, food on the table but somehow the economics only apply to the corporate spreadsheet and not the individual. The pilot should continue on as the robot they wish them to be, unrelentingly productive but not susceptible to any mental health issues brought on by having a nuclear bomb go off in your industry and life. Always in fear for your job.

The news from airlines across the globe is appalling. Mass redundancies in the Middle East with no transparency and metric as to how the decisions are being made, and when it might be over. Contract pilots in Asia forced into leave without pay and offered no communication as to when the situation might possibly resolve or what the plan is moving forward. Legacy airlines floating salary reductions of 50%. It's all madness. I don't know what the solution could possibly be. I am a capitalist at heart. Right now, though, the laws of capitalism can hardly be blindingly adhered to in these unprecedented times. It is well past the time for airlines to start truly engaging their pilot workforce as a way though this catastrophe. The draconian measures being used to trim the workforce and save the industry need to stop. The brain drain from the sky is going to be beyond what any reasonable traveller would consider acceptable if they truly knew. Yes, pilot lives do matter and it is time the airlines and public understood that.

Bindair Dundat is offline  
Old 9th Jul 2020, 21:46
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Seems a lot more than just pilot lives, BIND

The air transport industry has millions of folks that have been affected besides the folks up front in row 1, seat A

Besides direct jobs, you must factor in the supporting folks that provide gas, bring in the meals, sweep the floors in the terminal, and the beat goes on. It is the overall process that the "socialist" folks do not understand.

Without the amazing airline industry the world developed over the last 50 years, that nasty virus could not have infected millions across the globe in such a short time. So maybe some inspection of the industry to prevent a new pandemic is in order, huh?

I empathize with a few pilots that have no back-up jobs/plans/savings, heh heh, but that aspect of the airline woes today is down in the noise level as far as this old pilot is concerned.
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Old 9th Jul 2020, 21:48
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To OP:

You may want to consider our cabin crew colleagues first. 5x as many in numbers, 1/5 of the salary before the crisis hit.

At least we had a chance to save a bit for the rainy day and are not replaceable in the future with off the street talents from a 4 weeks crash course.

(Cross-posted with gums)

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Old 9th Jul 2020, 22:23
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It is out of the question that hundrets of thousands are affected in this industry, but frankly, the main difference is that most jobs did not require an up-front investment like the specialized pilot career does, and it takes many years until you eventually reach the break-even point.
A cabin crew who is one year into the business might not have had the chance to save a lot, but a young First Officer looks at 100k+ dept and no chance of employment in the flight deck for ages. Both can compete for poorly payed jobs in the supermarket now but the cabin crew doesnt need to pay back the loan. Soon the type ratings will expire and pilots need to cough up another 1500Ä every year for that plus another 100Ä for the medical - only if you can demonstrate proficiency without any training as the skills are still fading away quickly without being in a job anyway, otherwise it can be a lot more.
I am not talking about senior captains of major airlines on dinoaur contracts from the good old times who are close to their retirements anyway, but the average newcomer pilot is totally f...d.
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Old 9th Jul 2020, 22:41
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Pilots lives matter, but no more so than anyone else caught up in this cataclysm. Times change and who is employed by what industry changes too. When I was born, only the super rich traveled by air, that changed in a generation to everyone on the planet moving around, with all the benefits and detriments. When I was born, men, in huge numbers, had well paid, secure, pensioned jobs in heavy industry and manufacturing, that changed in a generation so that only a rump of those jobs remain. It is possible that we are seeing the beginning of the decline of mass air travel, the omens do not look promising with anti industry feeling from so many quarters, underlined perfectly yesterday by Mr Sunak completely ignoring the industry's plight. My advice is to look for a personal exit strategy before you become like miners and the steel workers reminiscing about their glory days of the past.
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Old 9th Jul 2020, 22:43
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Originally Posted by FlightDetent View Post
To OP:

You may want to consider our cabin crew colleagues first. 5x as many in numbers, 1/5 of the salary before the crisis hit.

At least we had a chance to save a bit for the rainy day and are not replaceable in the future with off the street talents from a 4 weeks crash course.

(Cross-posted with gums)
A very valid and poignant observation.

I don't think we have yet begun to understand the socio-economic consequences of governmental response to the pandemic. In my view, the greatest damage created from so blindly following a junk science, is to public confidence and it is public confidence which is so desperately needed to get the economy generally, and air travel in particular back to something recognisably able to support the livelihoods of those engaged in it.

Macdo has read the writing on the wall and it could be that we may witness changes in the industry of seismic proportions. The industry will need to evolve accordingly if there are not going to be even more tears. Nevertheless, the situation is desperately sad.
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Old 10th Jul 2020, 01:16
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The problem for airlines is that it is not 'just' Covid19. One needs to look at all the other global matters that were in process and continue. That list starts with - but is by no means limited to:_
  • The USA levels of debt, as well as in many other countries
  • Then look at places where property is seriously overvalued.
  • Consider the USA having reached the end of it's period of global domination and the rise of China.
  • The re-jigging of Europe.
  • The continued pressue from Russia.
  • The Middle East is not going to go quiet any time soon.
  • The climate problem has not been solved yet.
  • After the 2008 financial crash - nothing substantial changed, they just carried on as before.
  • Boeing has the problem of it's life still to fix, the Max is going to be an 'albatross' round its neck for years to come.
  • Airbus laying people off too.
  • Rolls-Royce, GE and other engine manufacturers following down the line. Not to mention all the other companies that supply components for each commercial aircraft.
  • The smaller comabines are not immune, Bombardier has debts too.
Think about the way in which all of these have been exacerbated by Covid19 and then ask the old question: Where is the money going to come from? Currently, everyone is printing money and there is a reason that the value of gold is rising! People waiting for things to go back to normal will be surprised. Those expecting the 'new normal' to be better than the old, may be surprised. One of the long awaited changes that has been shaped by Covid19 is Telecommunting and Office occupancy. From that follows meetings reached by air. I worked in Telecommunications for 27 years, I saw the changes starting 40 years ago. Yes, I agree that there is nothing that replaces a face to face meeting but a lot of those meetings ARE going to be replaced.

My pessimisim is not based on 2020. Some of us saw this pattern of problems 18 months ago, before Covid even began.
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Old 10th Jul 2020, 02:32
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Paxboy,

very insightful, however the rise of China will be severely curtailed by this Covid crises. After all, if what you say comes to pass, nobody will have money to buy their products. Friends I know in financial circles believe that Real Estate, especially commercial real estate will be affected, but the financial foundation of the markets and banking is still very strong (in the US) He even mentioned a better quality of life for working folks who are embracing telecommuting as a new normal. Time will tell.
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Old 10th Jul 2020, 02:45
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I doubt the large organization I work for will ever return to having people travel for business the way we did before.
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Old 10th Jul 2020, 04:19
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Thread drifting....No one has a crystal ball and everyone is speculating about everything. No one knows how things will recover. The point of the thread is the way aviation is hell bent on decimating the piloting profession. No other industry treats it's employees with quite as much contempt. Everyone expects layoffs. No one expects all jobs to be saved in the context of COVID. When mass layoffs hit other industries there are all kinds of supports and concessions for retraining and considerations for the lives that are being upended. In an industry where people are literally trusting their lives to the people up front, it's startling to me that people are treated with such disregard. The industry was broken before, COVID put it into very sharp focus.
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Old 10th Jul 2020, 04:58
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Bindair
Your's appears like a union rant but at a wrong time. Humanity is going through an existential crisis of global dimensions and it's either lives matter or they don't. Most Pilots are workers and worker's salaries have always depended on requirement and cost of their replacement. Presently it's survival not how meagerly and hope that it gets over. But then dynosaurs may also have thought so.
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Old 10th Jul 2020, 06:20
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Originally Posted by Bindair Dundat View Post
As this is a professional pilots forum I think it is reasonable to expect discussion focused on the specifics of being a pilot during the pandemic. This does not negate the extreme pain faced by millions of aviation and related occupations facing layoffs and hardships as well.
PPRuNE has evolved since the original person developed this site - given the different subsections I think it is very clear to most that PPRuNe is actually an aviation forum.

Current unpaid pilots (and there are currently many) would not technically be considered "professional".

There are very many captains of airlines that have taken paths that have not required any personal cash outlay to become pilots - employment bonds, cadet-ships and military.

We are all in this together, as a veteran sole occupation over my life LAME - hopes the industry revives and we all stand with each other (not apart like before) for good pay and conditions for ALL employees moving forward.
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Old 10th Jul 2020, 06:49
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Biggest problem for Pilots seems to be that they've spent $100,000 to become a 'One Trick Pony'. Without an aircraft to fly they haven't much to offer. An Engineer can fix any sort of machine, CC can work in many areas of Hospitality, managers can run away and run any sort of company but Pilots...

If this lasts a long time then that decision to buy a new Porsche and a large house on a big salary might have been a bad idea. Living within your means on $100,000 per year becomes a problem when you're only able to get a lowly job.

Tighten your belt and diversify...fast? 12 months ago nobody would have foreseen 6 months without flying so how can we assume flying will ever generate enough jobs after this disease finally folds?

Scary, isn't it.
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Old 10th Jul 2020, 06:56
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Bindair

Sorry to sound brutal but we're one of many employee groups in many industries seriously effected by this pandemic..yes we may have major responsibilities but that doesn't make us "special"..as blue up rightly points out maybe pay to train has given some the wrong impression but realistically paying large sums of money to get qualified doesn't make us special or worthy.

At a local level I know some some Unions/professional associations are attempting to provide support, reduce redundancies, but the realpolitik is that we're in the redundancy mix with many other people, it will be nasty and scary for some time, and I can't see any way around it. I certainly don't see many pilots getting extra special support from national governments..

When mass layoffs hit other industries there are all kinds of supports and concessions for retraining and considerations for the lives that are being upended.
From a UK POV maybe it has happened when a single industrial sector/employer has gone under, but this pandemic is on such a scale I can't imagine that happening now - Can you give us an example of what sort of scheme(s) you are thinking of, any examples from recent history?

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Old 10th Jul 2020, 07:02
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Originally Posted by Bindair Dundat View Post
Iím not convinced of the dire economic predictions. Iím surrounded by professionals in various fields ranging from healthcare to tech to banking where the pandemic has been nothing more than a nuisance. Their financial fortunes are little changed and they are waiting for things to go back to normal.
By no means representative, but the apocalyptic narrative is overdone. The other side of the fence is in the travel and tourism sector and yes, life sucks at the moment. Is the entire planet going to revert to RV vacations for the long term? A new normal will emerge and it will be a million times better and more profitable if industry is intelligent about it.
The problem with a statement like this is there is a lot of wishful thinking going on. There's a very interesting article in the Financial Times today that describes how we are sitting on a house of cards (debt) and the way capitalism is organised and leveraged these days makes it very easy for the whole thing to collapse. I would say that the economic picture is indeed very grim and commentators like Martin Wolf echo sentiments like that.
The OP may think of himself as a capitalist but if you work for a wage you are a worker.
​​​​​​
https://www.ft.com/content/c732fded-...omments-anchor
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Old 10th Jul 2020, 07:42
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PPRune = pilots.
Whilst I have every sympathy for anyone caught up in this, this forum SHOULD be about pilots.

In terms of one trick pony, yes, people spent years getting the qualifications and experience for what they felt would be a professional and long career.

With the sort of hours pilots do, I don’t know many who had the time and drive outside of the working day to set up “ Amazon “ or write “ Harry Potter “...

That’s not to say the skill set isn’t transferable , a lot of the qualities are, but the kind of industries where they may be used have never been crying out for unemployed pilots - thery are normally deluged with a applications.

I find it slightly embarrassing This is happening to me again, as all the jealousy I’ve faced since making it in this game, will make a few people jump for joy at its demise .
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Old 10th Jul 2020, 08:02
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We are spending in my branch of aviation (ATC) currently a lot of energy and discussions on the definition of the "new normal" .Will it be 50 or 80 % of 2019 traffic levels and when . The conventional wisdom at the moment ( it changes every week ) is 70% by 2024.
To influence that percentage and year does not depend on us, our management or the politicians, It depends on the public will to re-travel which is turn will depend on an effective and side-effects free vaccine or a cure and an economic rebound..
In countries with no or difficult ground infrastructure (i.e where alternative to a 1h flight is 12-15h by road ), traffic will rise faster , and will probably remain . For the rest we have to wait and see. Remember is is not only pilots, it is the whole chain , without pax , no revenue, for an aircraft operator an airport , aircraft manufacturers , etc...the whole chain. We do not control our destiny . Asking your ( non aviation) neighbors and friends when they plan to travel again for pleasure or business is probably the best indicator right now.

As to (some) pilots being special because they invested 100 K$ to their education, again have a look in the real non aviation world.. This is unfortunately becoming the norm for many professions where students have to take loans to finance their studies, whether it is a law degree or an MBA.
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Old 10th Jul 2020, 08:42
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Originally Posted by ATC Watcher View Post
We are spending in my branch of aviation (ATC) currently a lot of energy and discussions on the definition of the "new normal" .Will it be 50 or 80 % of 2019 traffic levels and when . The conventional wisdom at the moment ( it changes every week ) is 70% by 2024.
To influence that percentage and year does not depend on us, our management or the politicians, It depends on the public will to re-travel which is turn will depend on an effective and side-effects free vaccine or a cure and an economic rebound..
.
"70% by 2024"..Gulp.

Asking your ( non aviation) neighbors and friends when they plan to travel again for pleasure or business is probably the best indicator right now.
As you say a lot of this really all very much hinges on the general public. I'm certainly hearing of people who are planning on driving rather than flying from the UK to parts of Europe later this summer because they want to avoid aircraft/airports, and also because having a car on hand equips them with the means to " bailout" should there start to be hints of a local lockdown....
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Old 10th Jul 2020, 08:49
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"Who would have thought six months ago . . . .?
Maybe in six months or a year you will be saying the same thing.

We are geriatrics on a low fixed income but we usually manage to travel a couple of times a year, sometimes three or four with discount fares and companion flights and we were sitting here yesterday wondering where would be available to travel a little later this year. I suspect there are a lot of people out there in similar situation.

I am well aware that it is the last ten percent in many industries that make the difference between profit and loss but I was surprised to read that 'up to twenty percent' of jobs had been lost in the worst hit areas. If you were reading the dire predictions in most news media you would have thought that it was more like eighty percent! Apparently eighty percent of the travelling public will still have money to travel when this is over.

The game changer will probably be a vaccine or a reliable treatment. If we were lucky enough to get both by, say, next Spring, then why would people not travel? As much as business is currently finding ways to communicate with less face to face I expect new markets to develop and take up the slack. They always do.

I suspect it will be structurally more difficult to restart flying than to close it down. The process of scheduling and servicing parked aircraft and the sheer complexity of the industry has to make it a drawn out process but I suspect there will be a lot of pent up demand when we are free to fly abroad again.
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Old 10th Jul 2020, 11:06
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Originally Posted by FlightDetent View Post
To OP:

You may want to consider our cabin crew colleagues first. 5x as many in numbers, 1/5 of the salary before the crisis hit.

At least we had a chance to save a bit for the rainy day and are not replaceable in the future with off the street talents from a 4 weeks crash course.

(Cross-posted with gums)

Well CC has not invested a huge amount in their training, they don't have our big loans to be paid, they don't have to keep themselves studying and with recency... I can continue but there are many reasons why CC doesn't have the same problem, they could work elsewhere the day after, we can't.

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