November 1, 2020


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Badly hit pilots miss the ‘golden edge’ | NOW

Badly hit pilots miss the 'golden edge' | NOW

Pilots are having a tough time due to the corona crisis. Planes are mostly aground and many airlines are fired. Once upon a time it was a dream job, but now the times are uncertain. talks to four pilots about how they experienced the past.

Air traffic is slowly picking up again, but many pilots are still unemployed. And when they work, it’s not full time and they get paid less.

“I’m self-employed and I get paid per flight. I’ve been home with no income since the beginning of March,” says Bart, a Ryanair pilot.

“You do not know in advance how long you will not be able to fly. This makes everything uncertain. We have calculated how long we can pay our fixed costs from the savings account. We do not go on trips or holidays and think three times about an ice cream. There is no money more. “

Maurice is a pilot with a Chinese airline. He is also currently unemployed, but was able to earn more and invest in real estate before the crisis in China. “I’m in a happy situation. But I had to make sacrifices for it.”

“In China you have to deal with a tough working environment, where as a European you have to deal with a lot of discrimination. There are also a lot of additional studies and my family lives in the Netherlands.”

“You can not change it”

Although Ryanair is often under scrutiny, Bart is not negative about his employer. “You know what you are signing with your contract. The working conditions are sometimes not good and the contracts are rattling on all sides. It worked for me until a virus broke out.”

Last week, Bart was able to go back to work where colleagues lost their jobs. “Admittedly, in an adjusted roster with a new contract in which I had to give up 40 percent of my tariff.”

“I think this discount is irresponsible,” says Maurice for Bart. “It’s annoying for him and there is nothing he can do about it. The government helps with some airlines like KLM. It’s unfair.”

Aviation is no longer sexy

The sector has been hit hard, and Maurice admits that this has seriously damaged its image. “The golden edge is gone. My daughter (13) recently asked me: is it fun to be a pilot? I advised her to choose another profession.”

“My heart still beats faster when I hear a plane crash, but because of the work pressure and the financial consequences, I understand that young people now choose something else. In the past, training, which is often more than 100,000 euros, could be done within Pay fewer years. That is no longer possible. “

But not every pilot was hit hard by the corona crisis. Richard flies a private jet and is a freelance instructor. He was lucky, he kept getting paid and now works full time. “We have never been as busy as now. We have to sell no to a significant number of inquiries.”

“I’ve been saying that I want to fly since I was four. But for many people it is no longer a dream job. Before the crisis, the focus was still on training new people. The crisis has brought this to a standstill.”

Corona crisis as a rescue

The cargo flights continued as usual despite the corona virus. Pilot Evan has therefore been able to continue flying over the past few months. The corona crisis even saved him and his employer. “The company was on the verge of collapse, we had already given our notice. However, when the demand for air freight increased, we started again with funds from the UK government.”

“The freight rate has increased from about $ 14 per kilo to more than $ 40 per kilo. As a result, our parent company has paid off all debt in three months over the past five years,” Evan said.

“Planes are being added, we are renewing the fleet with more efficient planes. They are dirt cheap now because passenger planes have been canceled and aircraft manufacturers are in trouble and want to get rid of them,” he explains.

“Back to the old level in three to four years”

Richard and Evan’s stories are the exception. “Aviation has been scaled back,” says Maurice. “Pilots earn above-average, but there is also a price. We have training, exams and work stress. I finally have a good night’s sleep, which I also missed.”

“The virus hit everyone. Because the public is a bit finished with flying. I also prefer not to get on the plane now. I think that for us aviation will only be at its old level in three to four years.” will. Passenger capacity. “

So an uncertain future, but Bart sees him positively. “The last thing I want is to sell our house. But I still wonder how we’re going to close it. Because I get to fly again every now and then, it’s a question of whether I can’t pay off the mortgage. There will be a solution. How? I don’t know yet. “

The full names of the pilots are known to the editors and their work has been reviewed.