As a regional pilot for a national flag carrier you are often seen by the public as the image of the airline. Professional, competent and reliable. We fly our passengers to their vacation destinations; city breaks or business trips and reunite them with their family and friends.
The last few weeks have been uncertain. When the outbreak in Europe was at its beginning there was not much information on what precautions we should take or what was expected of us. We have procedures in case of a suspected communicable disease on board, but how to act correctly? How do we protect ourselves, ensure the safety of our cabin crews and passengers while maintaining the high quality of service that is expected of us?
Working at ‘zero’ during COVID-19
Now we have completely stopped flying. In the two last weeks the schedules had already been greatly reduced and many flights cancelled. Planned with full aircraft while only 10 passengers arrived at the gate were worrying signs of what was to come. As European countries are shutting down their borders, this last week has been spent repatriating.
The last flights have been concluded and we are sent home to wait for the ordeal to be over. It is difficult, especially for us pilots to be confined to our homes. We need some sort of excitement in our routine. We find reward in the perfection of our achievements. We are goal orientated, determined and eager to find solutions to get the job done. For most of us flying is not just a job that pays the bills, but a passion as well.
For pilots of grounded airlines there is always an inkling of fear what will happen as a result from this crisis. Airlines can easily use the loss of revenue as an excuse to increase the pressure on working conditions and show opportunistic or predatory behaviour when the market opens up again. Of course, we should support our operators to our best abilities, but we should also protect our profession for depreciation. Together we should stay vigilant.
However, there is nothing that can be done. We are lucky to be working for a national flag carrier with a healthy financial reserve. The government will support our airline so we can look forward to having jobs to return to. We happily stay home with a significant pay cut knowing there are many colleagues out there who are not so lucky. Although there are many things that could be improved, at least we should be alright in the end.
Pilots – just a dispensable cost factor?
What worries many pilots of grounded airlines is, what will happen after the crisis. Many airline pilots fear that the extraordinary character of the situation is already being used as ‘cover’ for opportunistic and ‘predatory’ behaviours from certain airlines.