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Old 07-15-2007, 12:59 AM   #1  
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Default SWA vs. Corporate

I posted on another message board, but didn't receive many replies and I am still pondering.

Thank you in advance, I appreciate any and all help with my dilemma...

A little background on my situation: I am currently a regional captain that enjoys pretty good QOL, but looking for a change. I have a SWA interview (no type, somebody always asks) in August that I am very excited for (my number one airline).

However, my friend is offering me a position to co-captain with him starting the week after my scheduled interview. It would be great to fly with my friend... And, this position will double my salary which would take 4-5 years at SWA to match. I am told this is a great part 91 one owner operation. But I have no corporate experience, so I'm seeking opinions. Taking the corporate job and quitting if I get SWA is not an option. I feel that I must give my friend at least a year or two. Also, I don't want to burn any bridges at SWA....

So, in the typical airline interview fashion, what would you do?

Second part: If, I decide to go corporate, do I cancel the interview? Or, if hired by SWA then do I turn down the job? Again, I don't want to burn a bridge, ya never know when you might need options...
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Old 07-15-2007, 07:08 AM   #2  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thinking man View Post
I posted on another message board, but didn't receive many replies and I am still pondering.

Thank you in advance, I appreciate any and all help with my dilemma...

A little background on my situation: I am currently a regional captain that enjoys pretty good QOL, but looking for a change. I have a SWA interview (no type, somebody always asks) in August that I am very excited for (my number one airline).

However, my friend is offering me a position to co-captain with him starting the week after my scheduled interview. It would be great to fly with my friend... And, this position will double my salary which would take 4-5 years at SWA to match. I am told this is a great part 91 one owner operation. But I have no corporate experience, so I'm seeking opinions. Taking the corporate job and quitting if I get SWA is not an option. I feel that I must give my friend at least a year or two. Also, I don't want to burn any bridges at SWA....

So, in the typical airline interview fashion, what would you do?

Second part: If, I decide to go corporate, do I cancel the interview? Or, if hired by SWA then do I turn down the job? Again, I don't want to burn a bridge, ya never know when you might need options...

What kind of plane? How long has it been in operation? What are the odds the company will be in operation for the remainder of your career? Will you be typed right away? Lots of questions to be asked. Good luck on your decisions.
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Old 07-15-2007, 07:16 AM   #3  
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SWA will be around for a long time. Like the previous poster noted you need to ask questions. Things well beyond your control in the business world could change your employment picture overnight. If it is an individual then a divorce could change it even faster. I would go with the guy who is in business to fly jets. You can always meet your bud for a beer or a round of golf.
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Old 07-15-2007, 08:21 AM   #4  
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If you go strictly by the odds, then your job with the friend wins...due to a 20-30% chance of being hired at SWA on the first shot. How stable is the corp job is the big question.
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Old 07-15-2007, 12:49 PM   #5  
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Is Corp. gig long term. Will you be typed, do you want to stay corporate? Do you like the 121 world now. How will QOL be at corp. gig. (days off, duties not related to flying, etc.)

Will the corp. job give you a severance package (in writing) in case things go bad. Personally I would be looking at the corp. job simply because once you go corporate you are in the club and finding other corp. jobs becomes easier.

It is a question of do you want to fly a 737 for 4-8 legs a day until age 65 (Yes I am against it but it will probable happen) or fly for a corporation. Two different styles of life, you need to decide.

P.S. what types of retirement is being offered by the corporate job. SWA only has a 401K, as far as I know there is no defined benefit plan.
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Old 07-15-2007, 05:34 PM   #6  
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Thanks for the feedback... In hopes to add more insight, here are some answers to some the questions:

It is a start up flight department, mostly for business use.

Aircraft is a Hawker. I will be typed to start. They are planning on adding second plane in 6 months.

Re-training expenses (severance, but can’t be called that) equivalent to 6 months salary if elimination of the flight department or aircraft.

Retirement is being discussed, but no details yet. Says he wants us to finish our career with his company…

Call out is 8 hours, anything less I have right of refusal and a contract pilot to fill in.

No extra duties…

Days off in discussion… (Any suggestions?)


This will all be in writing, eventually. I have a meeting next week to pin down some of the remaining issues. And until those questions are answered and a contract is in writing, I will be mostly focused on my Southwest interview.

Overall, I am intrigued with corporate flying, but I’m unfamiliar. I like the 121 world, but my heart is not set on it either. Southwest would be great (I think they are the best airline out there). However, I am single and not risk adverse for a change. Chances are the corp. gig will fall through and I won’t get hired by SWA, then all this talk will be for not… Oh well, it is still fun to think about and I appreciate the input into the discussion. Thanks.
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Old 07-16-2007, 11:57 AM   #7  
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One choice in this case is not any better then the other. It strictly depends on your preference in flying and lifestyle. Airlines are heavily unionized and as an employee of one you have very little control over the outcome of your career with one. Corporate rewards people who are "good guys" ie. people who are fun to work with, have good people skills, and maintain a professional image. People who bring these qualities to a flight department generally wind up at the best outfits. Of course, some of the best flight departments close shop after some time (average is 7 years) so just because you're with a high quality operator doesn't mean your job is more secure. Just ask the folks at Time Warner, AT&T, etc. If you possess the qualities I mentioned above, you will probably have a large network of people who will offer you a job with another flight department if your current one shuts down.

Southwest is a very good airline with a strong balance sheet RIGHT NOW. The same way United, American and Delta were back in the late 90's. When Southwest's fuel hedging advantage comes to an end in a few years they will be trying to compete with some of the highest labor cost in the industry. Can you say pay cut? On the other hand, if Southwest continues to find ways to remain competitive over the rest of the industry, you will make more $ as a captain at SW then as a Gulfstream or Global captain working for a GE or Citigroup.

Something else to think about; if your airline goes out of business, you have to start over at the bottom of some other airlines seniority list making 30k a year. If you lose a corporate job generally there will be plenty of opportunity to find the same paying job elsewhere.
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Old 07-16-2007, 02:01 PM   #8  
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I left the 121 world two years ago for a part 91 corporate gig flying a Citation. IMO, it was the best career move I could make. YMMV obviously since each corporate job (just like any other sector of aviation) has its own up and downsides.

The biggest thing that would concern me is the fact that the department is an upstart. Owning and operating an aircraft (for personal OR business use) is an expensive endeavor. You really don't gain an appreciation for exactly how much until you start flying in this environment and signing receipts at FBOs ($700 for catering for 5 people, $5000 in fuel, $200 in ramp fees, etc) and seeing maintenance bills ($10000 for unexpected TCAS failure/replacement, $30000 for burnt out EFIS tube, $250,000 engine inspection, etc).

Many owners (particularly first time) don't have any clue either until the bills start coming in. (To give you an idea a small jet operator can easily reach into the hundreds of thousands per year for operating costs- and that's flying only 200-300 hrs in a Citation or Beechjet.)

QOL of can be much better with a corporate gig. If they are willing to do the 8-hr thing than more power to you! I work a set schedule right now... M-F I'm on a long leash from 7am-430pm. During this time I need to be legal to fly, but there is no established call out time. I can do whatever I want around town, but you can rest assured that if I do get called, I'm going to get out there as soon as possible. That said, in two years of working for this company, I've had exactly one call with short notice. Usually we get notified of trips well in advance (days if not weeks or months). Weekends are off unless prescheduled, and last year I flew 5 weekend days total (all major holidays were spent at home guaranteed off).

Job security is always an issue, but also consider other benefits that might be possible beyond salary. My gig is an expense account operation. We don't get paid per diem, but instead the company pays for expenses. As such, there's no "leftover" cash like at the airlines when you eat frugally, but we eat a lot better on the road. (We budget on $75/day average per crewmember, but splurge from time to time as well). We also have an excellent retirement plan (401K match to 125%) and profit sharing as well.

You have a tough decision to make, but I would make it based on what you think that potential is for job security, the type of flying you prefer, and your own personal attitude towards aviation and customer service. Do you have issues with arranging catering or carrying/loading luggage? Are you flexible enough to handle schedule changes or work around problems that might arise (such as weather or delays)? Can you handle doing flight planning and other common corporate aviation related duties (such as basic cleaning in the cabin and some paperwork?) Regardless of whether they say "no additional duties" I'd expect there to be some additional tasks from what you're used to doing at the airlines.

Overall, I love my corporate job. I'm treated well and am well paid for the amount of work I do. I'll never make what a major airline captain makes, but I have a much better QOL than any airline pilot. In the end, it's a trade off that I'm more than happy with.

Good luck with the decision!
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Old 07-16-2007, 02:25 PM   #9  
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Thanks again for the additional input... I will have to consider this carefully.


This is one the best points, I have ever seen regarding corp. vs. 121.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdbaviation View Post
Something else to think about; if your airline goes out of business, you have to start over at the bottom of some other airlines seniority list making 30k a year. If you lose a corporate job generally there will be plenty of opportunity to find the same paying job elsewhere.
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Old 07-16-2007, 06:24 PM   #10  
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You will know that you made the right decision when you retire at "65".


If you need to work after that than something may have gone wrong. (not sure of your age but none the less). Go to the interview and get a feel for SWA. Corporate is corporate. How much do you expect to make in a Hawker(that may not be the final road)? The retirement is sometimes not defined. At SWA they match dollar to dollar upto 7.3% of your salary. At $100,000.00 a year that is over $22,500 into your 401K (yourself adding to the max of course). Some corporate gigs will fund a 401K or other benefit plan but those are hard to find. (Especially ones that pay into the 401K at a decent rate. IMHO)

I did corporate for many years and if something happened at the airlines, I would go back. It is not all that bad. There are trade offs in every thing you do. I got sick of fighting over GPU's, chasing coffee pots, filing clearances, and waiting around for endless hours. That was my choice. Also you will find that in many corporate places once they find out that the costs are so high they tend to "farm" out the A/C to 135 operators to make up the dough. Which may mean that you are on call "24/7". Last month I had 17 days off (airline).....no beeper and no call from the company to come on in the office and straighten things up.... Now don't get me wrong, corporate can be a nice flying gig, you will usually fly nice equipment and have some great "vacations" but there are trade offs. Like the gent said earlier I would be a little cautious since this is a start-up. Go to the SWA interview and see how it goes. You have some time.

Further, people that don't really know much about SWA tend to focus on the fuel hedges. Saying that when the hedges run out we are going to get a paycut and all this doom and gloom. Is is possible? yes. Likely? who knows (I think NO). SWA is run by smart people, they have been doing this for years. There are many ways to compete in the airline industry, fuel cost is not the break point. As you may be aware, now that the other major airlines are showing a profit, unions are back knocking on managements door looking for some compensation for the cuts that they took (AA wants 30% raise). Who is going to pay for that?

Like I said earlier, you will know that you made the right decision when you turn 65.......Go with your gut.

Lear-
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