Real Answers from Real Pilots

The Economy's Effect on Airlines in the past

I understand the industry is unpredictable and Adam you have told me to not try to predict the future, however I was just wondering what has been you guys past experiences with the economy’s effect on the regional airline industry? Any examples of some crucial changes in the industry over a 2 year period since you guys have been flying? If gas prices go up or a recession becomes induced what do you think it will do to the current airline growth and the recruiting they are doing? My biggest fear is going 70k in the hole and nearing the 1500hr mark and not be able to get hired by a regional until I’m hrs past the ATP requirement !

Tre,

As of right now, the airline business is doing great and regionals are hiring like crazy. You will be invited to interviews left and right once you get your licenses and it is not all that difficult to get hired (not easy… but not hard either).
That said, there are no guarantees and no one knows what the future holds. I didn’t really think about it too much when I started flight training because it didn’t matter to me…I wanted to fly. If flying is what you want to do with your life, then make it happen. Don’t think about the “what if” because it will not lead you anywhere.

Yarden

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Tre,

I have to agree AND disagree with Yarden on this one. Things are great right now and are predicted to stay that way (with the caveat no guarantees). Where I disagree is you should think about the “what if” because if you don’t think you can deal with it you might want to look elsewhere. When I was hired at ExpressJet things were fantastic. We were the highest paid Regional with the best contract in the industry. I upgraded in 2yrs and we were hiring like crazy. Life was good. Unfortunately things changed dramatically about a year later. Continental awarded a good portion of our flying to another Regional and then the price of oil went through the roof. I was downgraded back to FO and many newhires were on the street. FOs who weren’t furloughed but thought they’d be upgrading in 2-3yrs were then looking at 6-7. Fortunately SkyWest eventually bought ExpressJet and merged them with ASA (though no one was excited at the time) and ExpressJet is again doing well but it was ugly for a while. During that time I took a huge paycut and there were ALOT of unhappy pilots. Some gave up and got jobs in other fields, never to return. Me (and others of a similar mindset), I appreciated the fact I still had a job doing what I love and I was confident I’d get through it (which I did and then some).

I hope your career is always rosey but if things turn and if the fact it takes you longer to get there is enough to turn you off, well there are definitely more stable and easier ways to make a buck.

Adam