Disparity between mainline and regional

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Art Garfunkel
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Disparity between mainline and regional

#1 Post by Art Garfunkel » Wed Jan 06, 2016 2:37 pm

It seems the disparity between mainline pilot wawcon and regional pilot wawcon is getting larger and larger. Who is to blame for this? Management? Unions? Pilots? I believe all three.

Management obviously wants to get seats in the air for the lowest costs. They would have 777's in the Express brand if they could. Over the years though they have dangled a little more at the top to get a little less off of the bottom. This has caused mainline unions to implement scope clauses into their respective collective agreements to control the number or size of airplane flown for lower rates. But has this worked? In the mid nineties the 50 seat CRJ was flown at the mainline for mainline rates. Today the 50 seat CRJ is being shopped around at the regional level to get 3rd world pay rates. The line has now been set at 76 seats for the largest airplane flown at the regional level. But for how long. Could we see this go to 100? 120? Twenty years ago if a regional pilot told you he was flying from YYC to IAH, you would look at him and ask, "how many stops are you making?" You see the level of certifications and licenses from governments, for airlines and pilots, are the same from 20 seats and up... All the way up! What happens in a 50 seat CRJ, 73 seat EMB, or a 75 seat CRJ flight deck is no different from a domestically flown B737, A319, A320, A321, B767 or even B777 flight deck. Sure, oversees flights see the addition of oceanic track flying and ETOPS awareness but not that much different either. Quite often the regional pilot is subjuect to 4 take offs and landings in one day, in the busiest airspace in the world, and the mainline pilot may only have one or two sectors. The 4 sectors flown by the regional pilot probably yields just as many dollars as the one or two sectors flown by the mainline pilot. So why does management believe a 76 seat airplane should be paid half of the 77 seat airplane?

Unions know where their money is coming from. Their bread and butter are obviously the large legacy mainline carriers. More pilots at higher salaries equal more money. Currently the trend is less and less flying at the regional level because there just isn't enough pilots to crew these airplanes. Why? the starting pay is disgusting! After investing anywhere from 60K to 100K in licenses you get to start out at 20K. (20K is US regionals, Canada is anywhere from 28K-45K) This has caused cancelled and then consolidated regional flights into larger airplanes. Guess what size? Yep, over 76 seat airplanes flown by mainline pilots. So why is the starting salary at the regionals so low? They are represented by the same union…hmmm…..(ACPA excluded)

Pilots look after themselves. I know. I am one. This is the only profession where if you leave a company you can't get recognized for your experience. You start at the bottom and get paid entry apprentice like wages. So you soldier on up the pay scale ladder and not care about the people you step on and you leave behind. Management knows this all too well because they like to poach a few pilots here and there and learn from them. The current lowering of wawcon at Encore is a prime example of this. Dangle the promise of moving up to the higher paying mainline jobs for taking a cut now. Similar things are happening at Air Georgian and Sky just to retain people at the lower paying regionals. The AC model is a weaker promise though. Interview five, hire one.

So why are there regional airlines? A passenger buys the ticket from one place. The revenue goes to one place. All of the flights (mainline and regional) are serviced above and below the wing by the same people. The only pay disparity between the mainline operation and the regional operation is in the flight deck. But now it goes beyond pay. What about travel perks? Regional employees travel on a lower travel sequence. The CEO's janitor's parents can bump off a regional captain on the very airplane he flies. Why? They are not our seats we are told. They belong to mainline. They are right. The leases involved in the airplanes are mostly controlled by the mainline carrier. (There are some exceptions..(Jazz)). So why aren't the mainline pilots flying them?

The lower and lower wawcon at the regional level is chasing experience elswhere. So much that flights, in the US and soon Canada, are being operated by flight crews that would never be at the controls of this size airplane 20 years ago.

So, what is the answer??... I would like to hear your opinions and thoughts?


Art
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Re: Disparity between mainline and regional

#2 Post by dhc# » Wed Jan 06, 2016 5:43 pm

Nicely articulated...

The airlines don't care about experience, only $$$ for the shareholder.

What will get them to change the current pay structure (maybe) has been pointed out on this forum many times---SUPPLY AND DEMAND---

And right now there is enough supply to meet the demand (for the next year or so), then it will change...comes down to demographics, not enough people are getting into aviation as a career simply because the pay sucks. Better paying careers are out there, and the clowns running the show at the mainlines know this, they will continue to try to attract talent by doing the "value added" thing to make the low pay look more attractive to woo potential drivers to join their clan...do just about anything for you but pay you more :wink:
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Re: Disparity between mainline and regional

#3 Post by FOD_Vacuum » Thu Jan 07, 2016 2:50 pm

Whats the answer? Avoid the race to the bottom like what you see in the states. If Canada goes down the same road as in the states, youl see the very same thing play out where flights will start to be cancelled due to lack of crew. You can already start to see it happening now. I got a call from Jazz this morning asking if I was interested in an interview. I was confused because It has been over 10 months since I sent in my last application, and the picture of flying for Jazz has been long gone. Why did they just give me a call now? It seems as though they are scrapping the bottom of the barrel for any last experienced pilots they can find. For your info, I declined the offer because I prefer my wage and schedule as it is, $60k/ yr and half the year off. I have absolutely no interest in the current WAWCON at any of the regionals in Canada unless they up the pay and benefits. I am enjoying my lifestyle as it is with so many days off (including Christmas, new year eve and half of Jan (3 weeks) and good $, paid housing and commuting with ability to live anywhere in Canada, why throw it away to get paid 35% less and be a number with crappy flight passes and no ability to know your base first off. Call me when things change.
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Re: Disparity between mainline and regional

#4 Post by anonymity » Thu Jan 07, 2016 3:04 pm

Good on you fod_vacuum, please don't refer to yourself as bottom of the barrel, in my opinion you're cream of the crop for valuing your experience and if there were more like you, the race would stop.
Fact is, I worked for a company over a decade ago that valued my experience and treated me so well that I'd probably still be there had they not gone out of business.
The race to the bottom has to stop and it starts with pilots saying no to crappy conditions and pay
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Re: Disparity between mainline and regional

#5 Post by 180 » Fri Jan 08, 2016 8:27 pm

Yes, well written Art. You bring up some valid points and ask some good questions. I'm surprised there aren't more thoughts and opinions posted? I think the mainline/regional disparity is clearly an attempt to lower operating costs to become/remain competitive, (Keeping "down" with the Jone's) while bolstering shareholders profits. And unfortunately it's coming off the backs of pilots who were too slow hopping on the bus or who were too young and didn't have their ATPL's in time.

So what's a young ATPL'er to do? Can you blame them for accepting a job at a Regional like Encore or Jazz in an attempt to land a Mainline gig?
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Re: Disparity between mainline and regional

#6 Post by altiplano » Fri Jan 08, 2016 11:04 pm

To an extent it's don't hate the player, hate the game...

First there was deregulation, and it was game on.

But the problem is the players kept coming to the board... and in the score of it all, Canada is late to the game... But they had to compete with the 'chataqua, mercury and waterskis' which are operating the same routes all day long...

You can blame the corporations / unions /pilots /markets... But in the end it was deregulation of the industry that let you fly across the country for a hundred bucks, in the end something had to give.
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Re: Disparity between mainline and regional

#7 Post by FlyingMonkey » Sat Jan 09, 2016 4:06 pm

I hear so much negativity these days about the wawcon at the regional levels. I'm excited about the movement going on at the regional levels. For pilots (like myself) with 1500-2000hrs and in some cases less, there are opportunities to get on a 705 operation and fly a Q or RJ. In years past those kind of hours would have been able to land you a job flying right seat for a 703 operation for 20-30K. The pay structures at the regional levels are such that they are no longer career companies like Jazz was prior to the signing of the current CPA. But there are still respectable regional companies where hours and experience can be gained before making that jump to the mainline. I realize you can't please all and that these new regional hour requirements and wage structures must be frustrating to the boys and girls up north who spent years gaining experience hoping to jump directly to the mainline only to find out now they have to jump to the bottom of a regional carrier and start all over. But it is what it is and we have to remember flying is a business. And from a business perspective this helps AC and WJ remain profitable and economically viable for hopefully years to come. The more stable and profitable a company is, the more steady the hiring will be!
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Re: Disparity between mainline and regional

#8 Post by scopiton » Sat Jan 09, 2016 5:09 pm

flying is a profession and for this reason it's legitimate for a pilot to expect being compensated like a professional, from whom an airline expect to train, qualify and develop efforts to remain current.
As well as all the ops duties coming with it...
Regional airlines are not offering this compensation level.
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Re: Disparity between mainline and regional

#9 Post by Taxi » Sat Jan 09, 2016 6:30 pm

That is exactly where you are wrong flyingmonkey. Because regional level is not suppose to be the place where you build your hours as you build it in 703. It is not everybody who wants to fly in mainline, some just like to fly short leg and do more take off and landing. Then for some it's a career and you don't know how you are future could turn. Sometimes in life you have to make some choice and sometimes the mainline doesn't want you, so you will be happy to be in a good company with good benefits and good pay and especially when you will be at 40 years old. By the way it is not because you work at Air Canada express that you are garantee to be hire by Air Canada and same for Westjet.
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Re: Disparity between mainline and regional

#10 Post by FlyingMonkey » Sat Jan 09, 2016 7:26 pm

Why cant 705 be where you build your hours? Why is 703/704 where we have to start? There are a number of countries and major airlines that hire students right out of flight school and place them right seat on a 737 or A320 and they don't get paid "mainline wages" right away.

The reality is, the industry has evolved. Regional careers don't pay what they used to and we all have the choice to pursue the career which best fits us. If you can't live off of regional wages then aim for 703 or charter or one of the many other jobs in aviation that are out there.
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Re: Disparity between mainline and regional

#11 Post by fish4life » Sat Jan 09, 2016 7:53 pm

All those 200 hour pilots that go straight to the right seat of A320's is the reason why there has been an overall degradation of skill, look at the Air France crash for exhibit A.

Also you would understand when you are basically an instructor now as a 705 captain because guys are coming in with no experience.
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Re: Disparity between mainline and regional

#12 Post by goingnowherefast » Sun Jan 10, 2016 6:22 am

The current regional wawcon is #1 reason why I don't want to work there. I know lots of other guys that were planning on being career regional pilots. They are now working for reputable 703/704 companies making a lot more money and with much better schedules.
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Re: Disparity between mainline and regional

#13 Post by planeless » Mon Jan 11, 2016 8:03 pm

FlyingMonkey wrote:Why cant 705 be where you build your hours? Why is 703/704 where we have to start? There are a number of countries and major airlines that hire students right out of flight school and place them right seat on a 737 or A320 and they don't get paid "mainline wages" right away.

The reality is, the industry has evolved. Regional careers don't pay what they used to and we all have the choice to pursue the career which best fits us. If you can't live off of regional wages then aim for 703 or charter or one of the many other jobs in aviation that are out there.
Flying Monkey, you're missing the point. The regional carriers don't need to pay as little as they do and putting someone right out of flight school into a 737 or a320 isn't something we should bring to Canada. We shouldn't be striving for as little experience as possible just because there is someone out there willing to do it for less. If that were the case there would be people offering to fly 777's for 30k a year. There's a reason FAA changed their hour requirement to 1500 for an ATP license.
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Re: Disparity between mainline and regional

#14 Post by always hopeful » Tue Jan 12, 2016 3:26 pm

Planeless is correct in my pathetic opinion. If you want to start hiring doctors straight out of med school, the hospitals could surely get away with paying them 70,000$/year instead of 250, Just saying that inexperienced pilots don't know they are inexperienced. "You don't know what you don't know". That's being said I only kind of miss the days where landing percentages were in the 99.99999999% range and the 8 hr rule was more of a guideline. Anyway. Study hard, fly safe and put on a good show in sim. Your going places far quicker than I ever did/will.
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Re: Disparity between mainline and regional

#15 Post by CAL » Thu Jan 14, 2016 1:44 pm

I think someone should take the starting "net" salary....not what your T4 says which I hear an awful lot on here....how much dosh is in your bank account on the 1st or whenever you get paid.
Now take a guy living near YYZ make him single if that helps....rent, food, power, gas, insurance, parking etc......I think it would be very clear that if there was any unexpected costs at all then you would be back with mom and dad or trying to make it look like your just napping in the crew room...
The first few years at the two biggest airlines in Canada is hard enough to live off of let alone what a newbie at Jazz is making.....I am assuming less.
I own a small business and have a couple employees who I purposely accepted less net income for to pay them more for a while to make sure they could properly take care of themselves and be generally happy....they have grown with the company and are now two people I trust completely and they are loyal....that being said I am 100%sole shareholder and have the ability to make my own decisions...the wages stink and they stink because many of us accept them....
I always wondered what the old boys would think of the next generation having to struggle from pay check to pay check when the cost of living has certainly doubled if not more...but then I realized that many of them are still here flying :roll:
they struggled apparently so then should the next generation.....
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Re: Disparity between mainline and regional

#16 Post by Madman » Fri Jan 15, 2016 9:55 am

Art, I totally agree.
I have way too much to "express" on this topic and I feel it would simply be a rant. So, I'll save everyone the trouble of trying to figure out, what everyone already knows. Working conditions and wages have remained the same and have actually decreased over the last 15-20 years. ALL the airlines have figured out a way to remain profitable while shafting the Regional Pilots.
I'm looking forward to watching this industry play out over the next couple of years....although I feel I may be forced to take my experience overseas. Sad......
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