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Pilot paycuts have no effect on peformace -- report

GogglesPisano

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September 10, 2008, 8:43 am
Does Pilot Performance Worsen After Pay Cuts?
Posted by Matt Phillips



Continental pilots conduct informational picketing in Houston in June.
The union representing Continental Airlines pilots said the company began furloughing 148 pilots Tuesday, though more layoffs were avoided when some pilots took “voluntary steps such as early retirements,” the Associated Press reported.

Actions like this have been expected as the airlines downshift operations this fall to help deal with fuel costs that remain high by historical standards. The Associated Press writes:

The pilots’ layoffs are part of more than 2,500 jobs that have been eliminated at Continental, the fourth-largest U.S. carrier. The others were accomplished with voluntary measures such as leaves and retirements and not layoffs, the company has said.

For travelers, it’s unclear what ultimate impact such furloughs, layoffs, pay cuts and other assorted cost trimmings will have on the employee morale, and by extension, the level of misery or bliss during trips.

Interestingly, I ran across this 2007 economics paper today, (Hat-tip: Portfolio.com’s Odd Numbers.) in which economists Darin Lee and Nicholas Rupp, tried to figure out if the pay cuts taken by commercial air pilots earlier this decade resulted in a drop in effort on their part. The economists used flight delays as a proxy for “unobservable pilot effort.” They acknowledged that other airline employees could contribute to flight delays, but the economists focused on pilots because in some instances they were the only employees who had their pay cut, and also, when other employees also had their wages cut, pilots often saw the largest drops in pay. They write:

“We believe that the link between effort and delays is the most clear cut for pilots. Not only do pilots have the final say as to if and when a flight is prepared to depart (and thus are in the “best” position to induce a delay), unlike many other airline employee groups, pilots have few opportunities for other types of “poor” behavior. In contrast, baggage handlers could choose to misdirect checked luggage to wrong destinations, mechanics could work more slowly on planes undergoing routine maintenance and flight attendants and ticket agents could be less courteous to passengers. Moreover, pilots are somewhat unique in that they are essentially unsupervised, whereas other ground-based employee groups work under the scrutiny of management supervisors.”

So what did their research find?: “Our study finds only limited evidence to support the concerns expressed by company officers in interviews regarding the adverse effects on employee morale from wage cuts.”

That’s nice to know, especially when these employees are in charge of rocketing you safely through the atmosphere in a pressurized aluminum tube.

Photo: Associated Press
 

tomgoodman

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Baloney alert!

Their research appears to show that pilots do not respond to wage cuts by delaying flights. Then they jump to the conclusion that there must have been no "adverse effects on employee morale". :nuts:
 

Whine Lover

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"That’s nice to know, especially when these employees are in charge of rocketing you safely through the atmosphere in a pressurized aluminum tube...." surrounded by thousands of gallons of flammable liquids and accelerated to high percentages of the speed of sound.


Maestro of Death
 

Turtlesfly

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that's becasue the remaining CAL pilots are picking up open time - so of course there's no sense of sorrow.
 

ualdriver

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They only used delays to prove their point? There's so much pad built into schedules in the past few years that it's hardly a good indicator. They should have somehow come up with a way to measure fuel usage, sick leave, etc., things of that nature. Heck, a guy who decides not to single engine taxi a 737 or an Airbus for just 10 minutes costs the airline about 20 gallons of fuel PER LEG. You would think that would be measurable. I see more and more guys in the moneyline at ORD 22L (for example) waiting with both engines turning nowadays. They should have sat out on taxiway D observing that for their paper :)
 

Guitar Guy

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Perhaps a more interesting question for the authors to examine is, "Does a pay INCREASE improve pilot performance?"
 

Jar Jar

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..meanwhile the CIA, FBI and oh yes the TSA (with their shiny new badges) go pay a visit to BIGGOAT
 

Toobdrvr

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"unlike many other airline employee groups, pilots have few opportunities for other types of “poor” behavior."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAAAAR!!!!

-So a couple of college guys smoked some doob and came up with this? Classic! Nice research! I think someone put off their term paper till the last minute...
 

Deadalus

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"unlike many other airline employee groups, pilots have few opportunities for other types of “poor” behavior."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAAAAR!!!!

-So a couple of college guys smoked some doob and came up with this? Classic! Nice research! I think someone put off their term paper till the last minute...

I totally agree. I flew with a guy once that wrote everything up when he was pissed at the company. We departed maybe 30% of the time. The funny thing is he didn't make stuff up, he just wrote up everything that was wrong or broken. If everybody in the industry did this we wouldn't be half as f#$#ed as we are.
 
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