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Old 08-09-2007, 03:24 AM   #1  
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Default American Eagle shedding senior pilots

Looks like we have a source of new hires for our FDAs...

American Eagle looking to shed senior pilots

The regional airline is helping older pilots get jobs at other airlines, while striving to hire hundreds of younger recruits.

By TREBOR BANSTETTER
[email protected]


Are you a young pilot starting your career? American Eagle would love to give you a job.
Are you an older Eagle pilot near the top of the pay scale? The airline would love it if someone else gave you a job.
Eagle, regional partner of Fort Worth-based American Airlines, recently launched an unusual program that helps senior pilots find jobs at other carriers. At the same time, the airline is planning to hire hundreds of new, younger pilots this year.
The move to clear the decks of older pilots while bringing in new fliers demonstrates the pressure that’s been on Eagle’s business model, which relies on having a younger, less experienced, lower-paid work force.
“The average longevity of Eagle pilots is a lot higher than most of our competitors, because we’ve been keeping all of our senior pilots,” said Dave Ryter, a pilot and spokesman for the Eagle chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association. “After 9-11, people just stopped moving up.”
In the past, Eagle pilots would work for a few years and then advance to American, to be replaced by younger pilots at lower wages. Few stayed at the regional carrier long enough to reach the higher pay levels.
But after 9-11, American laid off thousands of pilots, and the flow of Eagle pilots to the main line stopped. Even though American is bringing some back, nearly 2,000 pilots remain on furlough.
That means it could be years before a substantial number of Eagle pilots advance to American.
“We’ve got pilots who have been around for 20 years,” said Andrea Huguely, Eagle spokeswoman. The average Eagle pilot has about 10 years of seniority, she said.
Starting pay at Eagle is $24 an hour, according to the union. The pay scale tops out at $98 an hour. Pilots are guaranteed a minimum 72 hours per month.
Between 2000 and 2006, the carrier’s pilot costs increased by 86 percent, according to the Transportation Department. Pilot costs rose much faster than overall expenses, which climbed 46 percent during that time. Total pilot costs in 2006 were $144 million.
Although Eagle pilots can’t advance to American right now, there are plenty of opportunities elsewhere. Airlines including Northwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines have been hiring, and growing discount carriers like Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways continue to bring in new pilots. Cargo airlines like UPS and FedEx are also hiring. During the first half of the year, the major airlines hired more than 1,400 pilots, according to consulting firm Air Inc., and some airlines are reporting a shortage of pilots.
“There are a lot of opportunities out there, and we want to help people who are interested in advancing their careers,” Huguely said.
The voluntary “pilot placement program,” which began in June, offers to help pilots with the extensive paperwork required to apply for jobs at other carriers. The program also works with pilots to identify potential new employers, provides letters of recommendation and allows time off for job interviews.
Airline officials began offering the service to the pilots who had been there the longest, although they say it will eventually be available to every pilot.
“A lot of our pilots came to Eagle because they eventually want to fly for a (major) carrier,” Huguely said. “This will help them accomplish that goal.”
At the same time, Eagle plans to hire as many as 700 new pilots this year, and has been holding job fairs to recruit pilots nationwide. Currently, the airline has about 3,200 pilots.
Ryter said the union is cautiously optimistic about the program, because it could provide some career opportunities for Eagle pilots. But he warned that the airline must handle it diplomatically, and provide enough resources to make a difference.
“Otherwise it’s just going to look like they’re trying to get us to leave,” he said. “And that’s not a good message right now.”
Online: For more airline coverage, check out Sky Talk, the Star-Telegram’s aviation and travel blog, under Blogs/Chat at www.star-telegram.com.
Trebor Banstetter, 817-390-7064
PILOT COSTS American Eagle spends more on pilots than other regional airlines Airline, 2006 pilot costs American Eagle, $144 million ExpressJet, $134 million SkyWest, $124 million Comair, $91 million Atlantic Southeast Airlines, $90 million Mesa Airlines, $65 million Pinnacle Airlines, $48 million Mesaba Airlines, $34 million Source: Transportation Department
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Old 08-09-2007, 04:58 AM   #2  
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Yes, but most of the folks that they want to leave really don't want to go. 6 figure salary + 4 weeks vacation + decent bidding seniority doesn't lend itself to wanting to start over. FedEx and UPS will probably be the only carriers any of the senior folks would truly consider. Many of them already have senioirty numbers at AA (if they wanted one) and would have a modicum of bidding power once they get over there since they'll have recalls already on property junior to them.

This program is good for those who want to use it but I think the company will find it a bust unless they pony up some $$ (aka buyouts) to ease the transition for most of the 10+ year guys (almost all of our Captains).
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Old 08-09-2007, 11:00 AM   #3  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swaayze View Post
Yes, but most of the folks that they want to leave really don't want to go. 6 figure salary + 4 weeks vacation + decent bidding seniority doesn't lend itself to wanting to start over. FedEx and UPS will probably be the only carriers any of the senior folks would truly consider. Many of them already have senioirty numbers at AA (if they wanted one) and would have a modicum of bidding power once they get over there since they'll have recalls already on property junior to them.

This program is good for those who want to use it but I think the company will find it a bust unless they pony up some $$ (aka buyouts) to ease the transition for most of the 10+ year guys (almost all of our Captains).
I think that's true of several friends I have there...
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