As I wrote in an article almost 6 years ago FREE AGENCY for pilots was close. The cratering of the economy delayed the process but it is back. In fact, it will be much worse than I initially predicted.
Remember, pilots are loyal to their specific airlines for two reasons; seniority and retirement. Both are now out the window. The reasons pilots seek the profession to begin with are: quality of life, pay and retirement. Industry bean counter’s of the past ten years, answer to the impending shortage is to diminish all of the above. Result? Nobody is willing to invest the money it requires to enter the profession.
Military pilots, who don’t accumulate the huge debt, don’t even want the job. It would be a pay cut. In fact one third of the pilots furloughed: ie have the job, and don’t have to go through the hassles of being hired…a third of those have said no thanks to recall.
Bean counter solution? Double down on punishing the crews. Result? Pilot FREE AGENCY. Keep in mind; the airlines took away pilot defined benefit pensions. This more than anything else kept pilots on-board. A-plans had a leveling factor based on years of service and the last few years of pay. So even a pilot that was junior most of his career would get a fair retirement compared to another who was a Captain for his/her entire career. THAT IS GONE! it’s all a 401K now. Seniority will hold pilots, right? Wrong. “Show me the money,” is the future for HR Departments.
Forward leaning companies are already using revolving seniority systems; direct entry Captain positions are popping up all over the world. Once the foreign carriers put extensive domiciles (pilot bases) in the USA (where all the pilots are) it is over. FREE AGENCY.
And; a lot of jets are going to stop moving which will necessitate a bidding war. Yes, the geniuses will demand an age 67 fly-till-you-die program. However, the last time I checked being an airline pilot is not indentured servitude. I plan on punching out at 60; certainly no later than 62. Flying 4 or 5 legs a day at the age of 67, ending up in Tulsa at midnight for a nine hour turn (van ride to airport, get something to eat, try to sleep, get ready, van ride back) and then do it again for three more days? Dicey, for all involved.
Viet Nam and Cold War veterans are timing out and retiring. They will go in mass, starting…NOW.
So what is the solution? I have one; but it ain’t cheap!