Real Answers from Real Pilots

It was the best of times

This is probably the best time in history (or at least in decades) to become a pilot. The airlines are showing big profits, the Regionals are hiring like crazy and salaries are the highest they’ve ever been. EVER. That said from time to time as the old crusty on here I often make statements like “there are no guarantees”, “this industry can be volatile”, etc. I get the impression some people think I’m Chicken Little, trying to discourage or I’m simply a pessimist. I assure you I’m none of those things I simply have been doing this a while and have seen a thing or two.

Case in point, today, Island Air just announced it’s shutting it’s operation this Saturday 11/11. After 37yrs of business many employees will be on the street including about 80 pilots. So what happened? Honestly I don’t know all the details but one can easily speculate it was a combination of trying to compete with Hawaiian Airlines by offering low fairs AND needing to maintain and staff a fleet of aircraft which includes having to double the pay of their pilots. I’m by no means blaming the pilots. The reality is flying planes is expensive while the public demands low fairs and the two simply don’t jive. I’ve never run an airline and unlike many pilots I don’t think I’m smarter than everyone in management and even if I were I’m not management so it’s all moot. The point is again there are now 80 pilots at various stages of the process who were all planning on being at Hawaiian, Delta, United (or wherever) at some point soon and have now been significantly detoured. All of whom I can assure you had no clue a wrench was about to be thrown into their plans particularly at a time when everyone is saying it’s the best time ever.

Not trying to scare anyone off, say I told you so or anything of the sort. All I’m saying is things happen and if you’re aware of that fact it’ll probably sting a little less and the recovery may be a little quicker.

Adam

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I believe this is also a good argument for finding the fastest route into the airlines. The Island Air pilots that are sitting with high PIC time and Captain stripes have a better shot at moving up vs. moving laterally and starting over on a different seniority list.

If they upgrade the people just ahead of your seniority and then freeze upgrades for a few months or even years, it can have a huge impact on your career.

Adam,

Big news on the island. Few them a couple times over the years and had great experiences. Hoping the 80 pilots land on their feet (as well as the other 300+ employees). Only two certainties in this world: Death and Taxes.

Aloha,
Jason