Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pilots, Pay, and Regulatory Reform

The Washington Post ran a story Monday on the "night life" of pilots who operate (primarily) low-cost carriers in the United States.  See Sholnn Freeman, A Crowded Hub Away From Home, Wash. Post, Aug. 3, 2009 (available here).  As the story starts:

At first sight, the Sterling Park house looks like an ordinary split-level, complete with carport, backyard grill and freshly mowed grass. But instead of housing a growing suburban family, it offers accommodations for 30 pilots and flight attendants struggling to string together a few precious hours of sleep.

This is a typical crash pad for regional airline flight crews -- part of a subculture of boardinghouses jokingly referred to by those who use them as the world's largest illegal housing network. It's a makeshift arrangement for people who often have to travel cross-country from the cities where they live to the airports where their jobs are based. A few describe themselves as "somewhat homeless" and complain that they make so little money that they have to make crash pads their primary homes.

The articles goes on to discuss the present challenges facing the U.S. airline industry and the "trickle down" effect falling revenues for major carriers is having on the regional airlines which supply their networks.  The report also notes that the Federal Aviation Administration is currently exploring possible revisions to its decades-old standards for pilot rest and work hours, though it has no plans--and indeed no authority--to regulate crew wages.  Recommendations for revisions to the rules are expected on September 1.

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