Less Than Half Of Airline Pilots Still Working


Only 43 percent of the world’s airline pilots are still in the same job they had before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and some of those are loving their jobs less and also getting paid less. A poll of 2,600 pilots by GOOSE Recruitment and FlightGlobal found the other 57 percent were unemployed (30 percent), furloughed (17 percent) and the other 10 percent are doing something else. “The amount of stress and anxiety the pandemic has caused me has permanently scarred my outlook on life,” one surveyed pilot said, according to Reuters.

Those still on the job say it isn’t the same. Cathay Pacific pilots recently accepted a 58 percent pay cut. Others said the changes in operations, the constant threat of quarantine and fear of getting the disease are affecting them acutely, not to mention they too fear for their jobs. “Large numbers are feeling insecure about their jobs, an increased number are planning to look for new roles this year as well as many feeling less valued by their employers,” GOOSE Recruitment Chief Executive Officer and founder Mark Charman said in a statement.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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    • I’ll second that, geez.
      Really hate to read about the state of affairs with the pilots and crews and all attached personnel tho. Very tough times we have now.

    • YARS there was a day and age past when sarcasm was easily distinguishable from straight forward discourse. I would have agreed with you then. Immediately post “Covid is a hoax”, I don’t blame anyone anymore for taking everything everyone says literally at face value. Sorry to say.

  1. I am one of the fortunate 43%, and I am very grateful to have my job.. Many great pilots/employees lost their jobs to no fault of their own.. I pray for a quick return to normal, and I know we will get back there, eventually.. Thinking of all who have been affected by the pandemic..

    Please be civil to each other..

    • Thank you, Tom. I think cabin fever and Twitter withdrawal are making us all a little crazy. The tone of most comments on Avweb has taken a definite downward spiral in the past year.

  2. The world response to COVID is a hoax / criminal fraud. Wearing a mask is hazardous to your health. It lowers your oxygen level, not a good idea with cabin pressure altitudes above 5,000 ft. , it can cause bacterial pneumonia per a study by Dr. Fauci in 2008. That study was online until very recently.

    Considering the financial shape the airlines are in, treating / harassing their customers is not very conducive to the survival of their industry. I will not fly if I have to wear a mask for a good portion of a day.

    • Allan K, what is your source for the claim that “Wearing a mask … can cause bacterial pneumonia per a study by Dr. Fauci in 2008”? Because a false claim like that has been circulating on social media perniciously enough that Reuters to the time to debunk it: “Fact check: Fauci study did not attribute 1918 Spanish flu deaths to bacterial pneumonia caused by masks”, by Reuters Staff, 22. Oct 2020 (https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-factcheck-fauci-mask-pneumonia-1918-idUSKBN277200).

      A 2020 (not 2008) paper by one “Colleen Huber, NMD” (not Fauci) apparently claims that mask cause bacterial pneumonia. That paper was not peer-reviewed, it was posted a while on a site “ResearchGate”, then removed.

      Fauci, on the other hand, was a co-author on a 2008 paper about causes of death in past pandemics. It was published in a journal, and appears not to be taken down or withdrawn (https://academic.oup.com/jid/article/198/7/962/2192118). Reuters says that paper ‘does not mention masks and found that bacterial pneumonia led to most deaths in the Spanish flu pandemic when it had been preceded by “viral damage,” or influenza infection.’ And, ‘Fauci makes it very clear in his description of the study that bacterial pneumonia was preceded by the influenza virus: “The weight of evidence we examined from both historical and modern analyses of the 1918 influenza pandemic favors a scenario in which viral damage followed by bacterial pneumonia led to the vast majority of deaths. In essence, the virus landed the first blow while bacteria delivered the knockout punch.”‘

      So if you are going to spread claims that mask wearing causes bacterial pneumonia, please don’t falsely cite Dr Fauci as an authority.

  3. YARS, I think that the gain on my sarcasm sensor is fine, but I’m having a it of trouble with my conspiracy filter. Perhaps a bit more foil on the sensor is in order?

  4. Multiple airline business cycles over the past 60 years have occurred with increases and decreases in employment numbers. Many, if not all, were not the employees fault but nonetheless they were affected by them. For example, the oil embargo which put a dent into the industry and required adjustment by the folks affected, In some cases they were furloughed for 5-7 years and had to deal with it. The 80’s recession also comes to mind, not to mention failed airlines due to business plans that couldn’t survive. Entering into this industry and subsequent career success, to a large part, is dependent on timing and a bit of luck.

    Throwing more tax payers money is not a long term solution to an industry that will not return to it’s pre 2019 size any time soon. The national debt ballooning to an unsustainable size may well be the next financial emergency the airlines and other businesses will face in the not too distant future.

  5. “The national debt ballooning to an unsustainable size may well be the next financial emergency the airlines and other businesses will face in the not too distant future.”

    I have been hearing this cry for the last 50 years. I’m still waiting for something to happen. Same story year after year and nothing happens. So what gives? When is this catastrophe supposed to happen. I agree, no individual, or, business could do what the government does and get away with it. But, it appears the government can. Year after year after year after year……………………………
    I’m confused…🤷‍♂️

    • When (not “if”) interest rates return to traditional levels, service payments on the national debt (currently $28 trillion) will become the largest item in the federal budget – a budget that Democrats in Congress seem to be determined to triple, if we can believe their assertions. Math is math. Danger, Will Robinson.

        • No, apparently “The interest on [US Government public] debt consumes 10% of the FY 2020 U.S. federal budget.” per “Interest on the National Debt and How It Affects You”, 21 Sept 2020, by TheBalance, a personal finance news site (https://www.thebalance.com/interest-on-the-national-debt-4119024). Actually the year-by-year amount ranges from 5.8% to 8.3% over 2008-2021. It helps that interest rates are really, really low right now.

          What is your source for the claim that interest costs are 50% rather than 10% of the national budget?

      • I’ve been waiting for the math to happen for over 50 years. The math goal posts seem to keep moving. Hmmm…

  6. As a GA only pilot I haven’t been in commercial flight since 12/2019 but once vaccinated I plan on continuing my travels. There are many like me who should return to the sky for both travel and business this year.

  7. No end in sight for payroll protection. A year ago it was “socialism bad”, now it’s acceptable. This on the news today.

    “The latest $15 billion Congress approved for U.S. carriers late last year required airlines to recall the employees they furloughed in the fall and maintain payroll through March 31. It was the second round of Covid aid for the industry; Congress gave airlines $25 billion last March to keep them from cutting employees through the fall.

    Airline labor unions are now seeking $15 billion more in federal payroll support for the industry to keep jobs through Sept. 30 and American’s Parker and Isom said they back another round of aid”

  8. After the way that the air lines treated the general public during the good times, I am failing to develop any sympathy for the bastards.