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Fly For Food vs. Pay To Fly

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I remember back some years ago in 1992, when a financial crisis was hitting the world similar to todays current one and banks were foreclosing on airlines.

Many many of these airlines in the USA were financially strapped to see ends meet without having to close operations and send pilots, flight attendants and supporting workers home to face unemployment.
A close friend and long-time airline pilot once said to me, ” Sometimes, any job is better than just no job,” meaning of course that his experience in this difficult and unpredictable line of work did not mean he was not willing to accept any job, be it on the ramp or even emptying the aircrafts WC contents. I mean, who would expect a 10,000 hour pilot to be willing to empty toilets or re-fuel aircraft while suffering the loss of a cockpit position ? I salute the few that see through the haze of stereotype baloney.
I learnt that aviation is no place for “prima-donnas” at least in the USA where so many airline pilots are used to both flying and also loading suitcases or walking an elderly person up the stairway to their seat. At Southwest Airlines, the true pioneers of Budget flying, now called Low Cost by the likes of Ryanair or Easyjet, pilots were expected to do whatever it took to make a profit, but of course the very same pilots and TCP´s were also shareholders of S.A. and collected their portion of the 401K profit sharing scheme.
This kind of incentive doesn´t exist in Europe and so the “prima-donnas” abound. But let´s face it, times have changed and I can foresee the day when pilots will fit right in to the Southwest work ethic. Young aspiring pilots today are forced to pay for their type-rating in order to fly which makes me very upset. This same type of scheme was practised in the USA for about 1 year before the results shattered the master plan.Obviously, companies are capitalizing on the dreams of young people by making them pay ridiculous sums of money to build some decent “jet ” time.
Unfortunately, theses same companies offer less and less long-term employment prospects. And sadly, vocational pilots that lack the resources to pay for a type-rating are closed out of the system. Many pilots with a rich daddy are poor pilots and many vocational pilots, ” will fly for food ” are ignored. Chief Pilots are constantly reminded of this as the poor simulator reports multiply. It became very clear that money will not a pilot make, but hard work and vocation are certainly the only way to go.
I guess what I am trying to say is that in todays Europe, what with the ever-tightening stranglehold on making financial results sometimes seeming to outweigh “security ” we can not accept the low cost strategy. The recent Vueling “Ab-Initio ” plan is bound to fail in the long run…SEPLA is denouncing it, the majority of experienced pilots are against it and I agree that for every 10 candidates accepted ( after shelling out 16,000 euros ) only 1 perhaps is vocational.
And that will create a very poorly trained cockpit crewmember. The day Economics surpasses the importance of Security, we will not see again pilots that ” Fly For Food ” but a whole lot of ” Pay To Fly ” airplane drivers.

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2 comments

  1. Estro22 Reply

    I like it! Great work, Paul!

  2. vayamundofacundo Reply

    Thanks! like the Olive song: ‘You’re not alone’

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