Regional Pilots Why?

3

350DRIVER

I am always amazed by posts on this board especially when their is a "debate" over regional vs major airline pay. What is just a little bothersome and puzzling is how the regional pilots always appear to have to justify "why" the deserve more pay, benefits,etc,etc, and so on ( a fight that appears never ending).... In my opinion whether you fly a 50 seat RJ or a 767 the "responsibilty" factor is the same as well as the objective which is pretty obvious in which you are paid to get the pax from point A to point B unscratched and not harmed. It is extremely hard to imagine why the pay varies so greatly from the regionals to the majors and so forth. I was once told from a major airline captain that being a regional airline pilot is comparable to being in the "minor leagues" and that a regional pilot should expect nothing more than "minimal pay"- I absolutely disagree with this mindset and outlook since the responsibilty is the same as well as the overall objectives and then the deciding factor now seems to be the "number of seats" that the equipment you fly has... I think it is not only unfair but also frustrating to read some of the threads and see the trouble that many regional pilots are facing during their continuing fight for "fair compensation" and benefits.

I can't see how most of the majority of entry level jobs pay much more than an entry level first officer positions at the regional level with much less responsibilty and training required for those jobs- I sure hope ALPA is fighting for better compensation and benefits for these guys although reading some threads I am not convinced that ALPA is doing this although I sure hope I am completely incorrect in my rush to judgement since I soon plan on being one of those guys at the regionals. I know and completely understand that being a pilot is not going to make one "rich" but is it too much to ask for "equal and fair compensation"???

Then their are those who continue to argue that you must "pay your dues" prior to making a decent and fair living BUT isn't "paying your dues" a never ending process in aviation??- I just wish the regional pilots who frequent this board were given and shown a little more respect and every once in awhile treated "equal" as the major airline pilots are treated.- Bottom line is whether you are a 67 jock or a CRJ pilot you are still doing the exact same thing EXCEPT getting paid equally and "fairly"- I sure hope that the future will offer a new beginning and some things will change since at 23 years of age I have a long way to go before I will be able to sit back, relax, golf everyday and best of all "retire" from an industry that has treated me so well this early on in my career- Just hope their are many changes that are in the works BUT after reading some posts it it hard to remain "optimistic" and upbeat seeing the many day to day struggles that face the regional pilot.

Cheers
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norskman2

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Why? Because They Can!

"It is extremely hard to imagine why the pay varies so greatly from the regionals to the majors and so forth. "

It's actually not hard at all to imagine why the pay gap exists. It exists because the airlines can get away with it.

It's like that joke about "Why does a dog..." well, you know the rest.

To oversimplify a bit, the majors in the 1980's tried to implement B-scale pay in an attempt to reduce their labor costs. The major pilots rebelled, the airlines looked for another way to reduce labor costs, and found a loophole -- their regional partners.

The advent of the RJ and fee-for-departure meant the majors could control 50-seat jets, pay the pilots diddly-squat and reap the lion's share of the passengers and revenue. As someone else once posted on this board, the use of RJs by regional affiliates (and in some cases wholly-owned), has really created a C-scale!

Or to use a rough analogy, it's no different than Ford outsourcing its parts production to Thailand to take advantage of cheap labor. Only in this case, the majors are outsourcing to the regionals and taking advantage of the fact that thousands of pilots are willing to jump at the chance for those regional jobs.

Oversimplified? Sure. But the bottom line is, yes, the responsibilities are the same and you could argue even greater (more legs, more flight hours per month) for regional pilots, but pay is ludicrous mostly because they can get away with it, until collective bargaining and if needed strikes can raise pay to something more realistic.
 
3

350DRIVER

So then what is it going to take till they can't "get away with it "anymore as you put it?- What must change in the industry before a first year regional pilot is considered to be paid well? I would only hope that ALPA has a strong enough voice to change things for the better although knowing the current problems and issues I can't invision many positive changes being made anytime soon in the near future. (hope I am wrong)

I guess wishful thinking is one thing BUT reality is completely different. Appears to be an issue that will be ongoing with no sign of a breakthrough in sight.... I just don't think it is fair to be using "cheap labor" at this point of the ball game especially after all the hard work and dedication that it took many regional pilots to get where they are today.

Dunno maybee my views are far off but just an "opinion"

cheers
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norskman2

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Is it fair? Heck, no!

What will it take to change it? Good question.

Presumably, the only long-term solution is through collective bargaining. The recent sacrifices and hard bargaining by the pilots at Comair, Air Whiskey and Mesaba can only help the situation, but improvements are likely to be only incremental. And while the improvements will be in small steps, there's a BIIIIIIG gap make up.

Who knows? It may take several years.

How much help can/should ALPA be? Another good question. (that's been debated ad nauseum on this board). Is ALPA mainly looking out for the mainline pilots? Are they doing enough to help the regional pilots? Stay tuned...
 

Timebuilder

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I think that large jet flying will continue to drain away from the more traditional names in the "major" market, as costs become untenable. In the long run, senior captain salaries will top out near todays rates, and future major contracts will not support such a large difference in pay scales.

One scale will creep up, and the other will be creeping down (actually staying the same numerically and purchasisng power will decrease) because of the demands of stockholders and customers.
 

surplus1

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Some Questions

1. What should the minimum qualifications be for an entry level pilot in an airline operating "regional" jets?

2. What should the minimum wage be (per hour) for the above entry level pilot during his 1st year of employment?

3. What should the pay rate per hour be for the same pilot in his second year of employment?

4. What is the appropriate pay rate per hour for the Captain of a regional jet with <51 seats and 12 years of seniority?

5. What is the appropriate pay rate per hour for the Captain of a regional jet with 51 - 70 seats and 12 years seniority?

6. What is the appropriate pay rate per hour for the Captain of a regional jet with >70 seats but <91 seats and 12 years seniority?

7. Should the hourly pay rate for a regional Captain or First Officer be the same, with longevity scales included, regardless of aircraft type?

8. Should regional pilots have a company funded retirement plan that is the equivalent of plans at the "major" airlines?

9. Should regional pilots have a company funded medical plan that is the equivalent of plans at the "major" airlines?

10. Should regional pilots have work rules that are equivalent to those in the large major airlines (UAL, DAL, NWA, USA, AA)?

Last: Can regional airlines remain economicaly viable and profitable if YOUR answers to these questions are implemented?

Just curious.
 
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Timebuilder

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Speaking as an individual, if I could accurately predict what the market will provide as answers to your questions, I'd be hanging out with Warren Buffet.

You can probably think of several jobs that were performed by adults back when you were a child, and recall that a family could live on that income. Now, those same jobs garner only a fraction of the purchasing power of those times, and have ended up as "entry level" labor that falls far short of providing a living wage. Teenagers now dominate those jobs. This is because of market changes.

If the high salary of the senior captain came into being during a time of regulated prices and cheap fuel, you can count on the eventual downward creep, in terms of real purchasing power, until the market supports the economic value that the position earns.

When young people look at the low wages of the entry level jobs in aviation, they will make a decision about the relative merits of becoming a professional aviator. If enough decide against the aviation career, then labor will begin to become more scarce, and wages will rise as a result. In addition, carriers with lower costs will grow and continue to capture market share, and those carriers who are servicing large labor contracts will see a decrease in their equity and market share, and load factors will decrease becuase their competitors are charging less for a comparable service. This too will depress the top wages from their real value highs established in the days of regulation.

It's a self-regulating mechanism. You and I can hypothesize the value of an RJ pilot, a 757 pilot, or even a flight instructor. We can make sense, and present good arguments. We will probably be in agreement. But in the end, a changing market will determine the answers to all of our questions about wages and market dominance.

Benefits will continue to be a dissapointment across the board. The lawsuit lottery will squeeze doctor's income, and so-called "health benefits providers" will contiue to demand more money for premiums while dispensing decreasing benefits. I haven't seen a fully employer-funded health insurance plan in my own life since 1985. I'm asked to pay more and more while receiving less and less for my dollar. We let this happen as a nation. The reliance on an ever-growing federal government and an ingrained sense of entitlement are the roots of this problem.

The market always seeks a balance, and because the variables are always trending one way or another, the process never ends, it only pauses briefly.

The top wages will still be good wages, and the lower wages still have room to rise. It will all depend on what the market will bear.
 
3

350DRIVER

I tend to agree with Timebuilder and I hope times are a changing not so much for just the "pay" but more so with regards to the "overall quality" of life at the regional level and a nice benefit package comparable to the major airlines. "Pay" is only one small aspect of the problem BUT I think their are alot more significant issues at hand than just the money. I think that most choose this profession because they are passionate about aviation and truly love what they do- me being one of them...

As for Surplus1- not easy questions to answer since most would be "opinionated" responses instead of having the statistics to make a factual statement-

1)- I think this question would probably be the easiest to answer since "minimums" are just that- A "number" and a "number"does not always make you a better pilot than someone with alot less TT.- I being one of them were hired with very little multi-engine time last year and "0" hours of turbine time- go figure BUT I still had to "prove" to the flight department WHY I belong here and also show that I was just as qualified as someone with alot more TT than me- I think with today's training and internships you cannot always "judge" a pilot by their total time instead look at the person's overall background, training, accomplishments, and work history....I can't see how "qualifications" can be the same for everyone- ASA and FSI showed that a pilot could be successful and competant in the right seat of the RJ at right around 300TT...Just my $.02

2-10- I won't even attempt to answer- I do however think that a regional airline can still be economically viable even if changes are made across the board BUT once again its just an "opinion" ..

cheers-
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