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Old 12-08-2005, 07:16 AM   #1  
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Default Southwest pilots to "fly more"

Southwest pilots to fly more

DALLAS (AP) Pilots at Southwest Airlines will be flying 1-1/2 more hours each month after the pilot's union and the Dallas-based carrier struck an agreement, a newspaper reports.

That would save Southwest about $4 million annually, because the discounter won't need to hire as many pilots as it expands its schedule about 10% a year, the Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association said.

Carl Kuwitzky, a vice president for the union, said in an interview Wednesday with The Dallas Morning News that the union has been improving its partnership with Southwest.

"Our pilots have no problem working hard," he said.

Southwest spokesman Ed Stewart acknowledged the agreement, which has not been publicly announced. He declined to comment further because the carrier typically doesn't discuss its labor relations.

The airline's 4,700 pilots had about 67 hours of actual flying time a month before the latest agreement, reached Nov. 6, goes into effect.

Southwest pilots used to average about 70 hours a month a decade ago, the carrier's union officials say. But as the pilots have gained seniority, they've also earned more vacation.

After Southwest asked the union for the extra productivity, the two sides came to terms in a side letter separate from their current contract, the newspaper reports.

The two sides are set to begin formal talks next year on their contract, which can be changed starting Sept. 1.

This comes at a time when pilots at American Airlines are considering their options for improving productivity.

The Allied Pilots Association, representing 12,000 American pilots, is holding meetings with members this month to present research that identifies the productivity gaps between the world's largest carrier and its competitors.

Though the APA board has authorized its negotiating committee to begin dealing with the airline, no talks are underway.

The average number of hours that pilots at American Airlines Inc. produce per month is in the mid-40s.
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Old 12-08-2005, 08:30 AM   #2  
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Forward-thinking Southwest demonstrates again why they're the envy of the industry. Would such a preemptive concession have ever happened at a legacy carrier who was profitable?

And heck, Southwest pilots work their tails off already.
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Old 12-08-2005, 08:44 AM   #3  
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Yeah, this is great news The American pilot can now work more hours and have less vacation so that the American consumer can enjoy low air fares, how wondeful and forward thinking of the SWA pilots ( the barf icon would have worked better here ).

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Old 12-08-2005, 09:30 AM   #4  
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Default SWA pilots to work more block hours


We're not getting less vacation. Notice that we're working more block hours not more days. I'd rather work more block hours than longer duty days. Here's some examples of what the lines look like for January in one of our western bases. I converted pay from TFP to hours of pay.

20 days off, 78 hours block, 81 hours of pay (6 lines)
19 days off, 79 hours block, 82 hours of pay (82 lines)
18 days off, 84 hours block, 86 hours of pay (130 lines)
17 days off, 88 hours block, 92 hours of pay (88 lines)
16 days off, 90 hours block, 94 hours of pay (70 lines)
The rest are reserve lines with 15 days off and 79.6 hours of pay (90 TFP).

Yes, LOTS of block hours. Of course I'd rather fly one 3 day trip every 90 days like everyone else but that just doesn't seem to be in the cards anymore. We work hard but they pay us pretty well in return.

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Last edited by Sr. Barco; 12-08-2005 at 09:32 AM.
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Old 12-08-2005, 12:28 PM   #5  
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Agree TP - I wonder how many SW pilots will drop dead on final if they up the retirement age to 65??? They just don't seem to get it.............
Old 12-08-2005, 01:11 PM   #6  
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Default Southwest pilots don't get it?

What don't Southwest pilots "get"? I guess I don't get it either then. Can you explain please? Thanks!

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Old 12-08-2005, 01:16 PM   #7  
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What they might "get"- is to keep their seats because they'll still be in the airline business
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Old 12-08-2005, 01:22 PM   #8  
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Originally Posted by cutnrun
Agree TP - I wonder how many SW pilots will drop dead on final if they up the retirement age to 65??? They just don't seem to get it.............

Drop dead on final from a career of flying 10-15 day per month? Even at 65 years old, that's a pretty weak argument. What SWA and SWAPA have done is make the flying productive and efficient for the pilots.

Personally, I see it as a good deal for both the company and the pilots.
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Old 12-08-2005, 01:50 PM   #9  
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By agreeing to these new work rules, you raise the productivity bar at your airline and across the industry - at the expense of quality of life, management expectations for future contracts, pressure on other carriers to beat the new benchmark, etc.

By your call sign, I assume you are an FO, thus likely in the earlier part of your career (which I hope is a long one). The toll this job will eventually take on your body is tremendous and will accelerate as you get older. I'm all for keeping a company healthy and viable - you have some excellent management there at SW and have dodged a few bullets - the biggest obviously is the fuel crisis that all of your competitors have endured but your management had the foresight to avoid. But your cost advantage won't last forever - it cannot. A 777 captain at american now makes much less than your 737 captain yet he is responsible for a butt-load more lives and a heck of a lot more expensive airplane. Ask a DAL guy what can happen when you think you have it made. In less than one year - top of the industry to BK. Yes management can make a big difference, but beware of what you ask for. I'm afraid $190/hr 737 captains will be a ripe target for your management team for your next contract when those fuel hedges have gone away and you are competing on a level (cost) playing field. An AMR 777 Captain carries 320 pax for $170 (ish)/hr a SW Captain carries 150 for $190/hr - -do the math - and don't say you fly more hours. You guys really have no where to go efficiency-wise. FAR's are FAR's. So what's left for management to attack in your next contract? Payrates. All mature companies are facing the same problems - don't think SW won't. My dentist just turned 50 and he said he is cutting back his days to 3 1/2 a week to enjoy his hard earned time off- why can't airline pilots think along those lines??? No, we just agree to work more and have a happy and financially secure widow

Best of luck to you in your career - stay healthy and happy
Old 12-08-2005, 04:01 PM   #10  
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Talking Little old Southwest is ruining the industry!


I agree with many of your points. Yes, I'm relatively new to this career. I have a little over 12 years of flying for cargo, commuter, and now major airlines. What you don't know about SWA is that it is VERY easy to give away captain flying. I fly with senior guys all of the time and most of them are not flying 80 block hours a month. Not even close. It is very proprietary at SWA. You can give away to zero block hours or pick up to 100 block hours pretty easily. Trust me I don't want to fly 80+ block hours when I'm 50+ years old.

As far as agreeing to crappy work rules it could be said that you guys are really dragging down the industry. Why did you agree to work for $170/hour? Why do you have crummy rigs etc? I could easily say that your contract is jeapordizing mine. Come on, in the end management forces it on you and you know that. Big unions don't have the power anymore.

You're right, $190/hour might not be sustainable for us. I know this is a cyclical business and I budget accordingly.

"A 777 captain at american now makes much less than your 737 captain yet he is responsible for a butt-load more lives and a heck of a lot more expensive airplane."

Here's where you need to do some math. You might fly 320 pax in one day on one long leg in a 9-10 hour duty day. Follow that by a 24 hour layover and 320 pax home. That's 640 pax in 3 days. I flew 548 pax in one 9 hour duty day last week. I then flew 600 pax the next day (6 legs,100+ pax per leg) and about 400 pax on day three. That's 1548 pax in three days vs. your 640. Obviously fares have a major role here but how much revenue did you generate in three days

And for your dentist, the poor guy has to work 3 1/2 days per week? I haven't worked over 3 days in a week in years! LOL!

Take care, respectfully,


Last edited by Sr. Barco; 12-08-2005 at 06:44 PM.
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