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Hiring Best Guess

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Well-known member
Jul 14, 2005
I realize nobody can predict what the industry is going to look like even a month from now but just looking for best guesses for hiring in 2012 when Age 65 finally catches up. This happens to coincide with my military retirement and I am just wondering if you guys think there will be any new hiring by then?

That will depend largely on the economy, and that's a real wild card right now. The age 65 thing will help, but it won't create a mega-hiring trend on it's own.

A lot of you military folks are re-upping right now with bonuses with the industry as it is, is that an option for you?
SWA will start empting the pool in late 2012 or early 2013. By then the retirements will be starting and the economy may be past the second dip of the recession. At least that's what my buddy is saying the folks at HQ are saying.
About 400 currently over 60 at FDX. Don't know about UPS. New duty time restrictions might put pressure of some of the supplementals and regionals to hire a few more folks.

I'm not too up to date on DAL, but since they had so many retire before they hit BK I think they are still a "young" airline. The NW section, however, and CAL both have a lot of guys approaching that new retirement age.

You need to have a backup, and a backup to the backup...but I think your timing might actually be pretty good.

Good luck...we'll all be watching the industry right there with you...

Staying past 20 is an option for me...that's the good news. The bad news is I think I will be looking at a non-flying assignment. I am fortunate that I can stay flying until 20 but not sure after that.

Thanks for the insight. Now I have to just figure out what that backup will be. Unless it is a flying gig, I might as well stay in the AF and add some years to my pension. Maybe I will luck out and be able to stay in the cockpit. Hard to say.

Staying past 20 is an option for me...that's the good news. The bad news is I think I will be looking at a non-flying assignment. I am fortunate that I can stay flying until 20 but not sure after that.

Keep in mind QOL issues, as things are not what they used to be, even with the majors. It is a tough life, hard on families, and the compensation for that sacrifice is minimal.
I think you are in a great position. Your timing in relation to retirements at the majors and hiring will most likely be favorable.
I will be the first to say that the airline career I envisioned twenty years ago is very different today. I will also say that there are still some pretty good jobs out there. Understanding you won't be a captain at a UPS/FDX/SWA/Delta for 10-15 years, you can still make a cost/benefit analysis on what a career will be worth to you when the time comes to retire.

With a retirement check in one hand, an airline check in another...and then perhaps a job doing something else you will be working hard but should have a pretty solid financial footing. Investigate working part time for Boeing, Lockheed Martin, SAIC, CTI, or a host of other firms that do DOD work. Not everyone is looking for part time help, but sometimes some of them are. If you ever had a goal of running a side business, opening a subway franchise, etc there are some jobs (UPS/FDX) that still offer enough days off a month to pursue multiple jobs. Now--nothing says you can't kick up your feet and enjoy your retirement and time off...you earned it...but right now there are guys furloughed at Airtran, CAL, UAL, AA, and a host of other places. Even the "solid" companies like FedEX, SWA, and UPS have had to deal with a slowing economy. Whether its a reduced pay guarantee like at FedEx, looming furloughs at UPS, or less open time and extra flying at SWA, each company has some pilots that are feeling pinched (or in the case of UPS...crushed...)

I think the lesson in this is consider any pay from your airline until you are about 85% seniority a bonus, and you better have a few back up plans. Now--when things do work at airlines...it is a job that has incredible perks. I love the job (obviously), but I also had the ANG and a side business to back up my first few years in the business. In a perfect world, you "should" be able to go to an airline and not have to worry about taking care of your family. However, in a perfect world we wouldn't have guys with bombs in their underwear and we wouldn't be using tax dollars to save banks and auto companies that hit the skids. I'm not passing judgement, and I try not to become cynical or bitter. However, the lesson is our industry suffers violent swings in fortune and tends to be very reactionary, so if you want to enjoy the good parts (and there are many) then you best have a plan to weather the bad parts.

There are good trends on the horizon. The last few contracts (HAL, Alaska) at majors have seen some gains. New flighttime rules will make the regionals and some supplementals have better and safer work rules, requiring more pilots. Pilot mills won't go away, but the requirement for 1500 and an ATP will likely put upward pressure on requirements to enter the business, hopefully creating an upward pressure on wages across the board. And yes...we have taken the age 60-65 change on the chin but the outflow valve at airlines will soon be open again and some retirements will take place.

The bad things facing us are out there too. First, a weak economy is the main concern. People need jobs to take business trips and vacations, and we need more of them. In some sections, there is a trend of consolidation in the industry. I have no idea if CAL/UAL will happen, or if AA will join with US Air, but mergers rarely mean "more new jobs". FedEx is going from 3 pilot planes (DC-10..now gone..and 727) to 2 pilot planes, and is getting more and more efficient with the use of the 777 on international trips. If they ever get a European domicile and expand the Asia domicile it is possible they could cover their system without adding many more pilots. SWA is a mature company now, and doesn't have nearly as many new city pairs to try out as they did 10 years ago. Jetblue is growing very carefully, but they won't have many retirements for years. All of this could change in a heartbeat, but in the macro I don't see a lot of rapid advancement for anyone in our industry for a while.

Of course--everything I have pontificated on could be 100 percent wrong. I've been wrong before and will again...

But...for the last 13 months I've bounced around the world on an MD11 for FDX, and I can say that there isn't a single job (okay...rock star, porn star, beer taster...) that would be as satisfying to me. It is a blessing to go to a job you enjoy, and I am willing to bet that with a little foresight and strategic planning, if you want to do this kind of work there will be some room for you when the time comes. You may not be a captain in 5 years, and you need to keep your eyes on the company health...but it is still a wonderful way to making a living when it works out.
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I did 23 with navy and recently got hired by Delta. Get out as soon as you can after 20. Mil retirement isn't enough (50K) to live off, and a few more years doesn't make a worthwile difference to your pay.

For Just need your last job to keep proficient, try training command bases. Start getting the lists of all your comrades who went airlines and email them. These lists are easy to find at training command squadrons, We were all helped in this way so we expect to return the favor.
The 65 rule is a bonus that gives you another 20 year career.
Overall, a guaranteed pension with good medical makes airlines more of a hobby than a job. You will love it.

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