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Virgin Atlantic future recruitment

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Virgin Atlantic future recruitment

Old 22nd Jan 2011, 20:00
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I think you mean the one I wrote about 9 or 10 years ago? It's still available from within the Wannabes - Interviews and Jobs forum. However, it probably needs updating!

Virgin still operates to 750 hours, though there is a 10 hour 'buffer' to allow a pilot to hit 750 during a trip and not have to stop short at, say, 730. Our pay is at least in part tied to flying hours, so lost time is expensive. While annual overtime (ie over 760 hours) is potentially available, in times of difficult employment and with many of our Virgin colleagues still waiting to come back after being furloughed, it is perhaps unfair to fly hours that should be being flown by a another pilot who is currently laid off...

A typical roster at Virgin (on the A340) will include four or five longhaul flights and around 80 flying hours. Each trip will be between 3 and 9 days away from home. Time off will normally be in blocks of two or three days but occasionally may be longer. The minimum time off (at home) in a month is 10 days. Ground training (simulator, safety equipment, avmed, tech refresher etc) is rostered at varying intervals and usually effectively replaces a trip in the roster. Standby is rostered in month-long blocks and typically comes round once a year, though it can be more or less frequent. There are no guaranteed days off during standby, but industrial agreements ensure that you will get more or less the normal number of days off, though you won't know when you'll get them!

Rosters on the B744 are different in that the Boeing tends to operate shorter flights, so you could occasionally get 6 flights in a month. Equally, because of the tortured and complex system of schedules we have to the Caribbean, you may well do a considerable amount of positioning on flights which earn few flying hours yet keep you away from home for up to six days. This is an issue which is hopefully being addressed, but seems somewhat intractable.

Longhaul flying is not about the aeroplane. There is nothing intrinsically better about flying an A340-600 or B747-400 than a Dash or an Embraer. The job at the beginning or end of each flight is much the same, but the bit in between is very, very much longer. If you can't abide sitting more or less still and doing little or nothing for 10 hours or more, don't apply. When you get to your destination, it is likely to be a lot less interesting and stimulating than you might have anticipated (though not always), and it will be a very long way from home. If your other half has difficulty with independence and self-sufficiency, do not apply. The parties and jollity that you may have read or heard about at Virgin are very much in the past. That's not to say that there is no fun to be had down route, but it will be up to you to provide it. If you were expecting lots of alcohol, sex and stories to tell your grandchildren, don't apply! Your time at home will be compromised hugely by fatigue. In a typical two-day stopover at home, you will sleep for a lot of it, feel crap for most of it, and be expected to do all the stuff which has stacked up while you were away enjoying yourself. Your relationship needs to be very strong, and your domestic support network must be fully functional and able to swing into action whenever you are delayed away or a crisis hits at home.

While I don't want to give the impression that longhaul is harder than lo-cost or any other form of flying, it brings challenges that you might not expect and may be ill-equipped to deal with. Professionally, it's very different to short-haul and relies hugely on self-study and prior experience replacing hands-on practise. You can't learn to fly in this job! Personally, it puts huge strains on you and yours and the change from whatever you're comfortable (or at least coping) with right now may be too much if you don't anticipate the problems and put in strategies to counter them.

I wish you all good luck.
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Old 22nd Jan 2011, 21:40
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Very very interesting and informative post - thanks scroggs!

Now when are they going to recruit non-type rated but experience people!
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Old 24th Jan 2011, 04:26
  #23 (permalink)  
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Quite a sobering post Scroggs - thanks for that. I must say that although I always fancied flying the venerable 744 like most people, I am not sure that I would like its limited route network at Virgin. I agree that an airplane is an airplane at the end of the day, but the A340 fleet certainly do offer much more route/layover variety despite the longer sectors. I think after awhile the Caribbean, JFK, Orlando and Vegas on the 400 would get a bit old (even in this freezing weather). It's all a matter of perspective - I am sure some Virgin 400 pilots love the flying...
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Old 26th Jan 2011, 03:07
  #24 (permalink)  
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Scroggs has it absolutely spot on. The only thing I would add is the time to command. I was quoted about 8 years when I joined (post 9/11 but pre-recession) so worked on roughly 10 years. Due to lack of expansion, the increased retirement age of 65 and perhaps most importantly the age demographic of our captains, many of whom are relatively young (mid 40's), it is now very clear that time to command is now more likely to be 15-20 years. This is BA territory but at least they have the option of an earlier short haul command or training positions for long haul SFO's to alleviate at least some of the frustration.

As with everything it comes down to personal preference and an individual's professional ambition. Just be realistic in your expectations and if an early-ish command is important to you don't even think about joining Virgin. If, however, sitting in the RHS for that length of time isn't going to be an issue for you, go for it. I like most of the places we go on the 340 and I like most of the folks I fly with. Just don't expect to see many of the crew downroute and if you want parties and shenanigans, go to Hedonism...

Finally, do be aware that VS is a small, stand-alone airline. RB certainly looks to have had enough and a take over could lead to significantly altered Ts & Cs, particularly the removal of our 750 hour limit, albeit kicking and screaming. That would equate to another trip per month and yet more time away from loved ones. Certainly wouldn't make people's personal lives any easier (although I'm sure it might for some!)
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Old 26th Jan 2011, 03:26
  #25 (permalink)  
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How do you live in London on 46k??
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Old 26th Jan 2011, 12:56
  #26 (permalink)  
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From what my mates at Virgin say scroggs & Borat seem to portray a realistic picture of the long haul life there. Very helpful stuff to any prospective new joiner.
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Old 26th Jan 2011, 20:27
  #27 (permalink)  
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Thumbs down

Scroggs and Borat are on the money here. Totally and utterly correct in their impressions.

I flew with Scroggs on the A346. Had a very nice, but totally boring (no offence meant or implied) trip to Newark.

I left for a Command when the time and money was right to do so. Both Scroggs and I discussed the future at length on our flight together. He hasn't changed his views at all, and even though my Command is a low cost airline Command, it is a Command and I'm better off for it.

The fatigue frazzled me in VS and I couldn't cope with being 5000+ miles from home.

I think 15-20 years is probably pushing it slightly, but I would certainly bank on 12 - 15 years before promotion.

Too long for me.

Good overall package, but it could change. And I reckon it will. To 900 hours.

On the plus side, that will reduce Command time because people will leave when that happens.
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Old 27th Jan 2011, 20:27
  #28 (permalink)  
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It's not all bad

There are elements of truth in the postings above but like everything in life it is down to you to make it what you want. I'm in my second decade with Virgin and it's had it's ups and downs but I can honestly say I have no regrets about my career choice. Depending on fleet the flying can be good fun. If you're on the -400 expect to make a lot of hand flown visual approaches in the Caribbean coupled with lots of procedural stuff if the weather is poor. It's enough to keep your mind and skills practiced but without having to do it 4 times a day. The 340 tends to be more automated to radar vectored ILS's but there's still a lot of non precision stuff (Canarse into JFK is always good for a laugh)

Life on the line in Virgin is actually quite pleasant. In general it's a very sociable atmosphere and you can adapt it to suit your needs. If you're flying on the business routes the cabin crew tend to be more mature (with quite few national crew on some routes) and there is plenty of opportunity for long lunches/dinners coupled with some fun and exploration. If you're on the leisure routes from Gatwick then the crew are much younger (probably average around the early 20's mark) but are always up for a party whether it's clubbing in Vegas or beach party's in the Caribbean. When you're in any of the "multi" destinations (LAX or MCO) there can be 4 or 5 crews in the hotel every night and that's always time for fun. No matter which routes and types I've been on I have always found crew who will come out and have fun whether it's sailing, skiing, climbing Mount Fuji, drinking or whatever you have planned it just takes a little charm and a small amount of organising (delegation).

As to the jet lag and time changes well everyone is different and copes differently with it. I won't say it's not a problem but you will find your own way of dealing with it. In the last 6 months I've averaged 15 days off a month (including some leave) and most of my trips arrive back early in the morning so although I sleep when I get home I'm up in the afternoon and can do what I please. It does build up and occasionally I find myself being pretty snappy with friends or family. There are lots of divided opinions within Virgin but having been with 4 other airlines in my career I can honestly say this has been the best lifestyle wise and I'm certainly nowhere near as knackered as I was doing 4 sector days 5 or 6 days a week. However it's all personal preference.

As to promotion, if that's what you're after, then don't come. The FO's now getting commands have been in the Company for twelve years and this figure will continue to rise so anyone joining now it will certainly be a minimum of 15 years. However that is for a Long Haul command and apart from the Middle East I'm not sure where you would get it quicker. Secondly my experience was that 95% of the Captains treat you like a grown up and expect you to make decisions and don't try and micro manage or use you as a human auto pilot. Virgin is roughly the same size it was before 9/11 and I think has found a plateau that it is unlikely to grow much in its current form. Yes we have new aircraft coming and there will probably be some limited expansion but then we have some aircraft that are getting old and will be retired.

Positioning gets a mention quite a lot but the inter island stuff in the Caribbean is no different to any one who has done long haul charter. As to the long haul positioning it was getting out of hand but several longer layovers in NYC, MIA, MCO etc have reduced quite a bit of it. 90% of the time I get an upper class seat, you get your hourly flying pay and although it doesn't count to my annual flying total it's not that bad. Unlike a lot of other airlines there are no early morning taxi rides or bus journeys across the UK and all the airborne stuff is in Perf A aeroplanes.

As to the fleet and route structures, they change. Over time fleet workloads and destinations alter and I wouldn't be too focused on what fleet you might go on as in 5 years time it will all be different.

The real downside, I guess, is the demotion and redundancy element. In the last 9 years we've had two big periods of demotion and redundancy so if you're a junior Captain or FO there is always a risk that the Company will "knee jerk" and you'll be out or demoted. However both times the recovery was quick and within a year everyone who wanted to come back had. After 9/11 some guys stacked shelves whilst on unpaid leave, some took other jobs and some did nothing and although it seemed a long time then it wasn't and they held their seniority. Basically like all business's they have an urgent short term need to save cash and in Virgin's case they use redundancy to do it. I guess that's just life these days.

As to management, what can you say, to be honest it's not that much different to any other outfit I've worked for. It is no worse or better than I've experienced but don't expect them to understand that you are actually a person who has needs. You will find that your current airline management team has "twins" in Virgin. You are a work unit and this is something that has changed since Richard left the scene. The "people" touch is not present but if you're happy to ignore that your colleagues on a day to day basis are a good bunch (again same for every other airline I've flown for). Basically most Pilots ignore the Company spin and if they need help tend to go to ex or current union reps first. We have a very fluffy internal comms team who seem to think that middle age, educated, professionals can be easily hood winked along with the 20 year old temporary office workers - maybe one day they'll wake up to the fact it doesn't work.

So if you're interested I'd say go for it. I've had a lot of fun over the years and the current salary and benefits package are good but do need an "update". If you want to get a real flavour ask anyone you know but find out how many other airlines they've worked for before as a comparator. I know there have been previous comments on relationships etc but in general the one's that don't work probably never were going to work anyway - we all look for excuses. So as long as you can get your head around being in the RHS for a long time you'll enjoy it.

See you all soon

Last edited by oxymoron666; 27th Jan 2011 at 20:46.
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Old 28th Jan 2011, 23:30
  #29 (permalink)  
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It's level headed reasonable blokes like you who make Virgin a nice place to be - looking forward to returning to the fold
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Old 29th Jan 2011, 14:59
  #30 (permalink)  
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How do you live in London on 46k??
Plus 12K flying pay for 750hrs but I agree...still crap.
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Old 29th Jan 2011, 15:42
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Living on 58K in salary/per diem? Very simple - dual incomes (preferrably growing dual incomes). Only partially kidding - you need to identify and marry someone who is professional and a money maker. Why marry a poor teacher or a hostie when you could marry a well-to-do barrister or advertising executive? Think about it. These professionals need love too... If you find someone who fits well in terms of chemistry/looks and she is making good, increasing money, then flying becomes more of a hobby and less stressful from a financial perspective.

Go find some fun nerds who are career-oriented and reduce your monetary dependence!
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Old 31st Jan 2011, 04:01
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If the 787 is ever completed, when is it expected on the line at VS (estimated)? How many have been ordered/optioned?
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Old 2nd Feb 2011, 15:56
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When I went for the interview (failed)! The management bloke said VS had 15 787's on order for delivery late 2013 (I think). He seemed to have more info on the 787 than on the A330's which seemed odd, given the A330's should arrive with VS in the next couple of months!
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Old 2nd Feb 2011, 22:25
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My guess would be Virgin selling the 787 options (and making money from it!) then being one of the first customers for the A350 which won't (famous last words) be that far behind time wise. It would save on training and probably with some other deal to relieve us of the A333s that will become surplus.

No inside info, as I said just a hunch.

Mind you, who knows what will happen when we eventually get taken over by....well, take your pick!
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Old 2nd Feb 2011, 22:40
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Think long and hard before you come to VS. The guys you share the flightdeck with are great but it's certainly not what it used to be.
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Old 3rd Feb 2011, 20:45
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Perhaps my post seems overly cautious; of course, Oxymoron666 is quite right that there is still much to be said for the Virgin lifestyle, but it does require that you are free and willing to put the effort in to achieve it. However, many people I've met and discussed longhaul with have a very rose-tinted view of what it's all about, and the Virgin lifestyle in particular. It's important that a bit of realism is injected before you commit to something that isn't what you expected it to be!

I didn't cover command or other opportunities in your Virgin career, or the future for the airline, but - for what it's worth - here's my two-pennorth.

Command will, as the boys have said, be in the region of 12-15 years for a new-joiner now. It's quite possible that the time to command could reduce for those currently waiting if capital is found to fund an expansion at Virgin, but it would have to be a very significant expansion to reduce command times for those joining now. I don't anticipate that there will be expansion to that extent in the next few years, though there are still opportunities for the airline to develop new markets from UK major airports other than LHR. Even at Heathrow, slots do become available (ask the US airlines!) and I believe that Virgin has a small number currently unused. The wider future for the airline is still very much in the melting pot, but I am quite sure that everything from a partial IPO to multiway deals are being considered. However, I don't believe that Virgin Group will dilute its own stake below 25% of the company, and will probably wish to remain the largest single shareholder. We'll see. However, I doubt that there will be significant changes to the operation from a pilot's point of view in the short to medium term.

Future aircraft is an interesting (though largely irrelevant!) discussion. The B787 and A380 both remain firm orders, and the first A330 is about to arrive. There may be much to be said for the A350, but I seriously doubt that the airline will give up relatively firm B787 delivery slots for uncertain A350 slots at this stage. Any further hiccups in the B787 programme could change that, of course. The A380 remains slated for 2015 delivery, and the logic of its inclusion in Virgin's fleet plans remains strong. However, a fleet of 6 is probably too small for the use the airline would like from it. I would expect the 6 options to be taken up, possibly for the -900 if it gets launched in time. In the further future, I would expect the A350-1000 to be the prime candidate for replacing the B747 and A346. It is entirely possible that versions of the A350 could eventually replace all our types (A333/A343/A346/B788/B744), but that's real crystal-ball stuff!
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Old 4th Feb 2011, 14:11
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Scroggs and Oxymoron I have to say are spot on here.

I joined 13 years ago at the age of 32 and got my command after nearly 8 years, but had a mental plan that 10-12 years was possible. At the time I was a senior F/O at another biggish airline and a year from a command there but was happy that I was joining a lifestyle airline and not chasing a quick buck/command.
Career planning within the airline industry is a notoriously fickle thing to nail down but ultimately you have to be able to reach the age of 60ish and look back on your career with some degree of satisfaction, and that you made more good decisions than bad. Do you want to look at your logbook and see 200 Hong Kongs or 2000 Malaga's spread over a 30-40 year career?

Over my time here the lifestyle has changed dramatically, some for the better and some for the worse. The days of 7 night Capetowns, 5 night Shanghai's, 5 night Delhi's and 4 night Antigua's seem like a distant memory now but I now have more time at home as we still remain a 750 hour airline thus becoming hours and not days limiting. Much is said about the short haul utopia of having every night at home but last month I had 17 nights in my own bed and cleared 72 hours over 4 trips which is fairly standard. My friends in the loco world often complain that being in your own bed each night is all well and good but getting up at 4.30-5.00am for 5 straight days largely cancels out these benefits especially in the dark winter months.

The downroute life here is, as alluded by previous posts very much a case of the more effort you put in, the more you get out. Over the last couple of months I have been skiing in LA, been for a bike ride in San Fran, been on a wine tour in Capetown, had a game of golf in Capetown, got so drunk in Tokyo that I actually sung some awful karaoke, and got some winter sun for a day in Dubai. Mix this all in with some meals out with terrific crew and all is well. The counter to this is some very quiet nights in New York/Boston/Washington where you can go a full 24 hours without seeing anyone. It is during these trips (1 or 2 a month on average) that you need to be ok in your own company. Personally I use this time to read a book, catch up on e-mails etc, which are all things which are difficult to do at home with a young family demanding undivided attention.

I could be a little controversial here and say that the main whingers are the ones for whom Virgin is their first airline. Very subjective I know, and in many cases very unfair, however in my time here I have noticed this to be the case on more than one occasion. Added to this are the small number of colleagues who are bordering on rudeness to the cabin crew in the cruise, and then wonder why they aren't dancing with them and downing flaming shots with them at 3am.

To all those joining this year (40 odd so i hear) I look forward to flying with you.

All the best
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Old 4th Feb 2011, 16:24
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Spot on postings by my colleagues..

No need to add anymore...

good luck
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Old 9th Feb 2011, 16:37
  #39 (permalink)  
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Virgin Atlantic future recruitment

Hello all

Does anybody have an idea of when VS might start recruiting again the future? I just missed the requirements last time round but now should have the required hours to send in an application...

Kind Regards,
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Old 9th Feb 2011, 18:47
  #40 (permalink)  
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Rumour has it that it should be in the next few weeks. I would advise you to keep an eye out on their website careers section.

Good luck
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