Furlough Preferred To Airline Uncertainty

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

Despite their emotional attachment to their jobs, furloughed airline pilots are turning down requests to return to the cockpit, says a recent report in The Washington Post. About 8,300 pilots have been laid off by the major carriers. Some have been on furlough for four or five years, since the post-9/11 turmoil hit the industry. United Air Lines and union officials told the Post that two to four pilots say "no" for every one who opts to come back. It's about the same at Delta, and other airlines don't even want to talk about it. More rehiring is expected over the next year or so, but pilots seem cautious about recommitting to the uncertainty of airline life. "Pilots watch the news, too," Duane Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, told The Post. "Every single time there is some international incident, oil jumps five bucks a barrel. ... [Pilots] just don't want to get caught in that whipsaw." For some, though, the initial turndown may be a strategic move. Furloughed pilots are allowed to pass on one recall. They retain their seniority and leapfrog ahead of more junior pilots if they elect to return the second time. So if they wait until they feel the airline is stable, they might avoid some of the growing pains and end up in a better position, says The Post.