Wings Magazine

Features Airlines
What if Air Canada Went to Salaries?

Wouldn't it be lovely if there was a national registry for seniority?

October 1, 2007  By John R. Scott

Cee Pee had a bad day. The summer had been great and there had been
lots of flight activity. Because of the weather the charters were more
frequent than usual. In fact he was actually quite tired of it all.
Admittedly, the company did have a lot of airports to operate in and
out of but really, doing 14 or 16 sectors in one day and only logging
8.2 hours sure made the task difficult. Now that winter is approaching
the sectors would reduce but the weather would be much worse – and the
forecasting in the operating area really increased the risk factor.
Also, now that the company was bringing up new FOs the work level
became much heavier. Now Cee Pee was looking more seriously at ‘getting
out of Dodge’.

Pee had about 4,500 hours now and his application had been in with Big
Red for over a year but he hadn’t heard anything yet. “Did I really
have to have a university degree? Hell, I spent more money getting my
ATPL than any guy going to university. Look at my experience level –
that’s what counts, not whether I can do Economics 101. But if I go to
Big Red at least I will get to take an accounting course to calculate
my pay. What is it now? Nights, equipment, transatlantic, FO, etc. I
wonder how they came up with that complicated structure. Maybe if Big
Red took its own economics course it could get out of its financial
hole … .”

Actually, I have heard on good authority that the
process used by Air Canada comes ‘from away’ ( a good Newfoundland
term). When airlines began operations it was to move mail for the
government – not passengers. The owners were paid on a weight basis (
the more bricks they were able to load the sacks with, the more they
got paid). The pilots were then paid on the amount of freight they
could carry on their aircraft type, so the larger the aircraft the
greater the pay because of the greater load. That’s easy – except when
they began to move into transporting passengers. The methodology was
similarly applied – the larger the aircraft the more the pilots were
paid as the responsibility was greater. Yet the pilot who flew the
smaller aircraft, did all the calculations, weight and balance,
refueling, loading and briefing the passengers, doing NDB or VOR
approaches with an OBS rather than a fully automated flight deck, got
paid less? Now we enter the world of seniority. This is also when the
wheels began to ‘fall off the airplane’.



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