Friday, March 10, 2006

The Plight of Airline Pilots

The New York Times illustrates the hardships pilots currently endure as the airline industry continues to limp along. The thing that particularly disturbed me was the discussion of increased hours. This is not just about pilots, the more fewer pilots are pushed to work more hours with less rest the more dangerous it is for everybody flying. I don't know what can be done here, the airline pilots union is in a bind, they work for an industry that is running in most cases out of bankruptcy and is really struggling to get by. That is the root cause of the problem, and with that in mind it is difficult to know how the union should react to improve the situation. I think everyone can tell that pushing too hard on airlines to improve pensions and reduce hours could be the final blow to many airlines experiencing losses from reductions in the number of passengers. There is one thing I do know though, this is the wrong attitude.
Not everyone agrees that the longer working schedule is a problem.

"It's hard for me to feel sorry for them," said Capt. Jeffrey R. Hefner, the safety chairman of the union that represents pilots at Southwest Airlines, who have always flown longer hours than pilots at older airlines.

"They're a bunch of spoiled brats," he said. "Historically, this has been a really cushy job once you get to the majors. You make a lot of money and you don't have to fly a lot. But there had to be a market balancing at some point."

Great, so pilots have union officials who think the members of the union are a bunch of spoiled brats, I'm sure that really helps the situation. What ever happened to union officials who fight for improved conditions for their members?

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