Pilot Fortunes

Airline employees make a ton of money … right?

Lets start with the Captain.  Each airline has a different  pay-scale and work rules. The “commuter” airline pay is horrible. Pilots leave after five to ten years when they can get hired at a “major” and start over at the bottom of the seniority list. If anybody is hiring.

Pilots with the major airlines have taken up to a 30 percent pay CUT  since 9-11. This is not due to inflation or creative accounting of some sort, it is a real decrease in salary. Pilots have had to accept reduced pay so the airlines can afford to buy fuel, and subsidise low fares. Some carriers  compensate pilots partly through stock options which are now worthless.

For the same period airline “executives” have received hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses, severance packages and “incentives”. This seems a little greedy.

So…. you guys made an amazing amount of money to start with and a pay cut should be no big deal, right?

Wrong.  There is a difference between the VALUE of a professional service rendered and the LEAST someone else might do it for.  I want all of the medical professionals, nuke plant engineers, train brakemen, ship Captains, and pilots to be well paid and worry free.

In 1970 an Airline Captain was paid the equivalent of  12 new Corvettes per year.  Today Captains are paid about 4.5 Corvettes a year at most. We could use a different unit for comparison but it works out the same or worse if you use the price of about anything.

Were the pilots of the pre-discount era any better?  They certainly had fewer problems to worry about, more money, more time off, less stress, and a much higher standard of living. I should think that you would want your pilots behind the big door to be stress free. They ain’t. 

So it is still a lot of money.  About 130 to 200 K per year. For being at work 80 to 90 hours a week, away from home 15 to 18 nights per month, working most holidays, getting up at four AM some days, working till two AM other days, and having a large percentage of the worlds population waiting to jump up and down with an AK-47 gleeful that some dipshit blew up another airplane. 

Then there is the physical exam required every 6 months that can end the career or the semi-annual “bet your career” two hour comprehensive orals and four hour simulator check, everything you do and say being recorded, across the board reduction or elimination of pilot pensions and retirement health care, throw in the years of expensive training, required experience gained through low paying entry level jobs or the military, airport security, drug testing, the near impossibility of having a normal family circumstance and the mind numbing boredom of most FAA required training (most of which is useless) and you have a great career opportunity. If your airline fails for whatever reason you will be lucky to start over as a co-pilot at another company at the bottom of the pay-scale and seniority list.

On balance, the view makes it all worth it.

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2 Responses to “Pilot Fortunes”

  1. I like the idea of converting salaries to corvettes. I wonder how many corvettes per year the guys who assemble corvettes make. Not counting the corvettes they actually MAKE.

  2. luckyjet1 Says:

    About the same as in 1954.

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