...And They're Going Down In Some Cases...

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Delta, which is publicly involved in very trying financial times, is eyeing up the pay packets of its pilots to help cut expenses. It wants its 7,200 pilots to cough up $800 million a year in concessions (an average pay cut of about $11,000 each) and analysts say that might not be enough. Meanwhile Air Canada pilots have already swallowed $300 million in pay cuts (an average of $10,000) but they still have some esprit de corps left for the cause, as evidenced by a very public gesture of support for the airline -- a $200,000 ad campaign. AVweb is aware of some pilots willing to fly for (and some airlines willing to pay) substantially less. The Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA) is funding the campaign to convince passengers that it's safe to book flights in advance (we'll still be here) and that the airline is positioned to survive for the long haul. The campaign, called "This Is Your Captain Speaking," is the pilots' way of assuring the public that the airline, which the ACPA terms "an essential service," is "not only going to survive, it's going to thrive and prosper," said spokesman Jean-Marc Belanger. The pilots were apparently not willing to bet their investment portfolios on that optimism and politely declined (at least for now) the airline's offer to provide a $250 million equity infusion required under a refinancing deal. With help from some U.S. investors, Air Canada hopes to pull out of bankruptcy protection on Sept. 30.

Now, flying the big iron doesn't always earn you a membership to the country club. In fact, it seems like there's more than a few pilots trying to sell their skills and finding (if not creating) a buyer's market. We don't normally quote from online forums but the Professional Pilots Rumor Network (PPrune) has a lively discussion going about what the "market rate" is for qualified pilots looking for work. The exchanges suggest that the situation overseas can be far less rich and that the many pilots happy for work regardless of pay are driving pilots' earning power down. One correspondent laments that he's been offered the right seat in a 35-year-old wide-body for a Middle East charter company (registered in an African country) for $2,300 a month plus $50 per flying day (yes, that's day, not hour). He said he turned it down but others suggested he should have been happy to get the offer, given the current climate.