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Old 12-17-2007, 03:15 PM   #1  
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Default Leave Major Airline for Corporate?

Hi, I'm new here . . . I have almost 12 years seniority with a major airline, and also have a Captain's bid with that airline. Unexpectedly, I may be offered an outstanding corporate job (through a pilot friend), flying a Bombadier Global Express. The corporate job salary & benefits will be approximately the same (if not more) as my airline Captain pay, yet I will work considerably less hours and be home more. Overall career earnings would be on-par with both, yet the average corporate job length is probably not as long as my remaining 20 years of airline flying (I'm 45).

The company is privately owned (I don't want to give names), but from what I have researched, it is very well off. The flying operation is small and there is no on-call, etc. The pilots can work out their own schedules most of the time. The only negative with the whole situation is that their President/CEO, who is a highly powerful individual in the business world, but he is well up there in years of age. This individual is the mover-and-shaker for this company, and does the "bulk" of the flying in the back of the jet. My concern is the long-term prospect of this job. I have talked to the pilot and he says everything is in place to keep the flight dept for years, but in the corporate world nothing is guaranteed. He has been very honest with me with all the positives and negatives of this job (right now the positives outweigh the negatives).

I'm interested in hearing from anyone who has gone from a major airline to corporate, especially from the Captain's seat. I will be commuting to the airline Capt's seat, working approximately 90 hours per month, yet the corporate job is in my back yard and a lot less flying. Also, once qualified in a Global Express, if the job ever goes away, is it easy to find another corporate job? I hear it is a very close community.

To close, I have not yet been offered this corporate job, as I am now doing heavy research. I would be giving up another 20 years of airline flying which is a lot. Yet when contract time comes around in a few years I do believe the unions (all of them) will strike, with the possibility of a company sell-off by management. This, and the attitude of the major airlines employees right now is "toxic," which aside from the flying, can be a detriment. I have thouroughly enjoyed the airline job (flying, layovers, etc), but the labor-management conflict is a hard fought battle that is never ending, and contributes to too much negativity. Finally, I realize a lot of you would love to have this "problem," of mine. I am very grateful for both my airline job and the potential corporate offer, yet it will be a huge career decision for me if I am offered the corporate job to my satisfaction. Thanks for your replies.
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Old 12-17-2007, 05:12 PM   #2  
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Default Corp vs. Airlines

Personally, I don't see a choice here. I left Continental for a corporate/charter position in 1988, never looked back.

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Old 12-17-2007, 07:01 PM   #3  
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I recently left a corporate/charter job and took a $50,000 pay cut just to get back in with an airline. I hated the corporate job. You are always babying spoiled rich people. You are the ramper, flight attendent, gate agent, dispatcher, and everything else. Everytime something is wrong, even if it is the weather it is your fault. No schedule. There is no union protection--duty time, days off, etc. (I'm not big pro-union but it really makes a difference). There are no travel benefits. I didn't think I used them until I was without them.
I know guys who love that flying and can't understand why I would ever want to "drive a bus". I would think really hard about what you like before you leave a major. 90% of the guys I flew corporate with were dying to get your job.
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Old 12-18-2007, 07:34 AM   #4  
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I don't blame you for wondering about what is undoubtedly one of the most difficult decisions you will make during your career. I recently had to make a similar decision when I received my final recall letter from US Airways. My choice was to either accept recall, or remain at the corporate flight department where i've been for three years.

The lifestyle at the corporate flight department has hands down FAR exceeded airline lifestyle in every area. I spend far more time at home with my family. I rarely spend a night in a hotel. The pay is a bit less than the airlines, but the lifestyle makes up for it.

Keep in mind though that I fly a light jet, whereas you will be flying a Global Express. The Global is a great airplane, but in corporate the old axiom is "The bigger the airplane, the bigger the suitcase."

I wish you the best in your decision. Let us know what you decide.
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Old 12-18-2007, 07:52 AM   #5  
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I think vonerotate and TransMach posts show its up to the individual and the operation they work for.

You express concern about the stability in corporate aviation, yet also the future of the working environment in 121, both unknowns.

You want 121 to corporate captains to respond, but if you'll take the opinion of a corporate to 121 FO here it is.

Yes a type in a large cabin corporate aircraft is marketable if something was to happen to the flight department. Most corporate departments are wary of 121 guys because the expense of traning in can be high, my guess is 30 to 50k for the initial type on that AC. So if you already have the training, future moves in type are easier. From what I've been told by 121 guys commuting, it sux, and there is nothing like driving to your flying job. Less stress equals longer life. Other corporate perks are building hotel, car and airline points that you can really use.

I can understand your hesitation leaving 121 for corporate, afterall if you don't like it, you cant just get back in line where you were.

Good luck.
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Old 12-18-2007, 10:34 AM   #6  
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I dont know if this will help you, but here is a post I made on another website as I was making my decision whether to accept recall or stay where I am:

"My fellow pilots,

The November bid includes 165 recalls. With a roughly 10% recall rate anticipated, this bid should exhaust the furlough list and generate meaningful hiring for US Airways.

I have been told to expect the "take it or leave it" letter within the next two weeks, and that classdates will be scheduled in September and October.

Over the last several months I have labored over this decision. I have spent countless hours on the internet on this forum and many others. I have spent hours more on the telephone with former co-workers, other furloughees, family and friends deliberating over the decision.

5 years is a long time. Honestly I can barely remember what the job was like at US Airways. Over the last 5 years i've worked for 2 regionals before ending up at a corporate flight department. I've moved twice. Our son was born and may take his first steps any day.

I wonder whether i'm the same man I was years ago. Honestly I doubt it. When I started my first job as a Jetstream 31 first officer with Chautauqua I never imagined that I would spend the next decade working for 3 regionals, 1 lcc, 1 major only to end up flying a 7 passenger corporate jet. The airline pilot lifestyle was all I ever wanted. I remember looking at that Jetstream as though it were the finest airplane in the sky. I was proud of the aircraft, proud of the uniform, and proud of the job. I polished my shoes, wore my hat, and dreamed of the day that I would make the inevitable leap to the cockpit of a Boeing.

When that day came in 1999 and US Airways began hiring 100 pilots each month after my date of hire, I thought I had won the lottery. The job was almost everything I dreamed of. Most of my frustrations were with the association. I honestly felt as though ALPA was damaging my career far more then they were helping it. At every turn they seemed intent upon building new barriers to prevent the company from competing in the airline industry. The contract was amazing, and I appreciated everything it offered, but as I became more involved and attended ALPA meetings I realized that I completely misunderstood ALPA's mission. To me the union's motto should have been "ALPA: Job security is Job #1". But it wasn't. ALPA protected its most senior members at the expense of it's most junior. It robbed from the poor, to give to the rich.

Later, with thousands of pilots on furlough, ALPA would continue to shield it's most senior members by allowing the company to raise pay-caps, by continuing to allow the outsourcing of an armada of regional jets, by failing its most junior members.

The national union leadership could clearly see that a nationwide whipsaw was in effect couldn't they? How could they successfully represent both the US Airways pilots who had lost their jobs and the regional jet pilots who were reaping the benefit?

Over the last 5 years the airline pilot profession has changed. Compensation, lifestyle, work-rules, duty rigs, and retirement have all suffered. Narrowbody jets with as many as 95 passenger seats are flown by outsourced feeders at a fraction of the pay and benefits that such positions should command... and pilots line up for those positions. Pilots spend countless nights away from their families in pursuit of a lifestyle that no longer exists. Except for those rare few who work for FedEx or UPS, the dream is dead.

The profession does not protect experience. If US Airways were to disappear tomorrow its pilots, should they choose to continue in their profession, would start over. Just as the 1800+ furloughees were forced to find employment as commuter first officers, charter pilots, expatriots (yes, they left their COUNTRY to achieve some measure of success in exchange for their sacrifice)... so too would those who found themselves unemployed due to the destruction of the airline. Who is at fault? Managers who lack the ability to control pricing? ALPA who is incapable of putting a premium on experience and creating a national seniority list to prevent pilots from becoming handcuffed to a single operator?

I'm rambling.

So I made an extensive list of pros and cons. I carried the list with me for weeks and added to it whenever a thought came to me. I stared at that list time and time again trying to see a clear answer. Accept the recall, or abandon the dream in favor of my new life.

I emphasize how much time I put into this because I want the young pilots who read this thread to understand how much time and effort had been put into achieving that major airline position -- and that giving it up has been no easy decision.

But that is the decision I made.

I'm going to remain with the corporate flight department where I am currently employed. It is by no means perfect, but it offers me a lifestyle that could only be enjoyed by the most senior airline pilots. As I write this I sit in a hotel on one of the very rare overnights we are scheduled for. My son's photograph is the wallpaper on my laptop and I can't help but wonder what he is doing right now. Every day he does something that he has never done before and watching him discover the world is just amazing to me. I miss my wife and son after less than 24 hours away. How could I even consider commuting to sit in a Philadelphia crash-pad for days at a time missing out on all of that?

Make no mistake. This has not been easy. I've wanted to be an airline pilot for as long as I can remember. I was that kid -- the one who had no other hobbies, no other interests. I was singularly focused on that airline career.

So thank you everyone for all of the advice, the insider information, the emails and PMs, the phone calls, and the friendship you have provided to help me make this choice. I wish all of the US Airways pilots -- east and west -- the very best. There is something about that airline. Something more than airplanes, tugs, and people. It will survive and prosper in spite of itself. East and West pilots need to come together and take back ALPA.

No more meetings at high priced resorts. Hold your meetings where pilots can attend -- airport hotels at the domiciles. Spend your membership dollars as if they were your own. No more meals at 4 star restaurants. Protect your junior pilots. They are the foundation upon which the profession is being built. Defend their jobs as if they were your own...failure to do so will cause more and more pilots to "look out for #1"... The result of that practice is apparent. G0-Jets, SkyBus, Virgin America...

Good luck to all, and thank you. The experience I gained flying by your sides has made me the pilot that I am today. I will not forget the lessons learned."
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Old 12-18-2007, 11:54 AM   #7  
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Have you thought about taking a leave of absence? Would allow you to feel out the corporate gig, and go back if necessary.
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Old 12-18-2007, 03:45 PM   #8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DustoffVT View Post
Have you thought about taking a leave of absence? Would allow you to feel out the corporate gig, and go back if necessary.
Which is exactly why corporates are extremely reticent about hiring 121 guys.
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Old 12-18-2007, 04:32 PM   #9  
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I would say that you should look at the company and then look at the guys/gals that you would be working with. A pure Part 91 corporate flying job can be awesome. I was about the same seniority as you at a major airline. I wouldn't go back for anything. I also work for a private corporation. These guys are a lot smarter than the typical airline manager. You may have an old guy running the show, as we do, but they will have somone in the wings who will take over. They are training him or her right now. Everytime that I go to work it is like going to a flying club to go up with a bunch of friends. I love it. With that said, I still have my seniority number just in case the smelly stuff hits the fan. Good luck.
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Old 12-18-2007, 06:45 PM   #10  
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Thanks to all of you for replying! I hope to meet with the CP within the next 2 weeks to see if I am a serious candidate for the position. Until then, please keep the posts coming . . . it certainly has been beneficial to me. The bottom line is . . . the airlines have definitely changed, and they are not what "most" pilots signed up for 10-15 years ago. With that said, the majors still offer a "good" job, one that I have enjoyed (except the nasty labor-mgmt issues which will destroy at least one major-my prediction), However, I never realized how special an excellent corporate flying job could be . . . Thanks for the words . . . like Zap, this decision will be a tough one.
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