While cargo airlines – in particular the national one – are well known in Luxembourg, outside of Luxembourg pilots flying cargo aeroplanes are often seen as “second-class” pilots by the broader public. Sometimes they are even asked if they are “not good enough” to fly passengers or “when would they be allowed to fly passengers”? The job of a cargo pilot certainly comes without all the glamour that accompanies airline pilots in the typical Hollywood movies.
However, only known to few fellow aviators, life in the shadows can be quite interesting. The operational environment of cargo pilots is often far more challenging than that of the “regular” airline pilot. It is therefore almost amusing that their real value is only seen, when everybody else has sadly been grounded.
The importance of just-in-time supply chains suddenly means that without freighter airplanes – and their crews ready to fly during a pandemic – society could face even bigger problems in the near future than what we see now.
Working at Maximum Capacity during COVID-19
For many cargo pilots around the globe this circumstance gives a feeling of pride and confidence. The pilots flying for an airline like Cargolux are not only happy to see that their work is finally appreciated but they are glad to do it. Nobody is asking about long-shifts, short-term rescheduling or extensive time away from home in an ever changing and complex environment, where travel has become nearly impossible and definitely cumbersome.
The pilots can never be sure when to return home eventually – will the country they are flying to really let them in or will they be sent to quarantine straight away? They are faced with an increased exposure to the risks associated with virus when operating into high risk areas, taking rest at destinations around the world where venturing outside the hotel premises is not recommended or even restricted by local authorities. Yet, in the knowledge that working at maximum capacity will hopefully help society to endure the COVID-19 challenge a little better, nobody complains.
Their jobs are also held by a string and it is in their vital interest to do what they can to save our companies! They have heard and answered the call and they are offering to give back vacation days in order to work. The cargo pilots are more eager to do their bit than ever before, just waiting for a chance to help out where help is needed. They all know one thing: “We are in this together!”
Pilots – just a dispensable cost factor?
We can only hope that managements regardless for which airline they fly will recognise and value the efforts cargo pilots – like all other of their fellow co-workers in the air cargo industry – are making to keep the business afloat and honour the scarifies they make especially during this crisis.