Perhaps the pilots on this forum can explain this to me. I'll be blunt: I'm unclear on how "better management" can solve the problem of Delta's CASMs being the highest in the industry. Being a bit of an amateur one myself, I know pilots are a smart bunch. But I'm just not seeing the pragmatism/realism/logic in their staunch refusal to take one for the team and bear a pay cut for the company's survival.
I think most reasonable people agree: Something's got to be cut. Or, at the very least, most agree that the airlines are going to have to rewrite their business plans, embracing the successful low-cost model. That means cutting costs. So what do the Delta pilots think should be cut, instead of their pay? It seems we hear a lot of generalities about the incompetence of management, but we never hear any specific proposals to get the costs down. No great 21st-century business model will survive on top of a CASM that far exceeds that of the nearest competitor. And labor costs, according to Delta and every other airline that has gone down this road, account for the highest costs.
It's a different world now; pilots just aren't worth $200,000 a year like they once were. That's the grim reality -- you can thank WN
, et al for that. Delta pilots: The day your flight school classmates started working at LCCs for half your pay, your market value went down. Your 737-800 cockpit is no more challenging -- and thus demands no more money in wages -- than the 737-700 flight deck in which your buddies at WN
work. In fact, I hear WN
has even disabled VNAV on its 73Gs, which means those guys and girls actually work a bit harder sometimes.
I feel like this reality is just the way the world works. You didn't become a pilot to get rich, did you? Everyone says they chose this job not for the money, but for the fun of it, right? So you may have to accept the fact that, yes, the market value of your work has actually decreased. This isn't the first profession to have suffered that fate, and it probably won't be the last. Believe me, no one is more saddened about the whole situation than me, a guy who grew up dreaming of nothing more than flying heavy metal one day.
But wait -- there's got to be another solution. How about reducing management's pay? After all, they're just a bunch of bloody incompetents with MBAs and law degrees anyway! For some mysterious, unspecified reason, Leo Mullin just wanted to run Delta into the ground and get himself fired by the board! Sure, you could do cut management's pay. But doing the math, I don't see how that would make much of a dent in Delta's $700+ million loss last year. And you certainly wouldn't be able to retain the brilliant minds necessary to effect a turnaround. Hell, if I had a degree from Harvard or Wharton, it would take A LOT of money to lure me from Trump Tower to a cash-strapped airline struggling to stay airborne with labor strife out the wazoo. Sorry, but that's the reality of the marketplace. If you want the minds necessary to deliver the results, you've got to pay them, maybe link their compensation to the company's financial performance. But to start off, pay big bucks in salary. Benefits. Yes, even bonuses. Call it an investment in future earnings.
Call me an industry sympathizer, but I think the rest of the world is in agreement that pay concessions COMBINED WITH a streamlined low-cost business model are the only way to achieve the cost results demanded by management. Not to be a bit of an armchair CEO here, but I can't think of any other way. It's logical: If labor costs are the highest costs, then labor costs have to be cut. Then concentrate on growing the business. What say you, union members? Maybe I'm just confused. Or maybe I just want to be flamed, talking like this on this forum. In any event, I'd love to have some dialogue about this. It's a fascinating problem that's come up in every unionized industry in economic history at some point.