Just when we thought the economy might be stabilizing somewhat we hear this: Foat Wuth-based American Airlines, already in bankruptcy, announced yesterday they were laying off 13,000 employees. OUCH! Those are 13,000 people, presumably with about as many families depending on them.
We Americans have been criticized for years for "living beyond our means", but how do you know what your "means" are these days? How do you make any long-term plans or purchases without knowing if you're going to have a job several years in the future, regardless of how vital your job is or how skilled you are? I know a great many airline employees, both current and retired, from my 20 years of volunteering alongside them with the Commemorative Air Force. (Formerly the Confederate Air Force, it's a group that buys, restores, and flies vintage WWII aircraft. "Lowandslow"....get it?) Many of them will be devastated by this layoff.
Over 8,000 mechanics will soon be on the streets. How many do you think will lose their homes to foreclosure in Ft. Worth and Tulsa, American's two largest maintenance bases? What about property values in general in those areas? And unless they speak a foreign language and are willing to relocate to Turkey, China, or Latin American and work for 50% less, they're screwed. American A&P mechanics are dinosaurs these days. Three cheers for globalization!
Over a thousand flight attendants will be out of work soon, too. They took a HUGE pay cut after 9/11 and haven't recovered since. (My girlfriend before K was a flight attendant.) Same for baggage handlers, provisioners, and some mid-managers. But here's what gets me....millions of dollars are still paid out to senior executives as "retention bonuses". They say if they don't pay these bonuses they'll lose their smartest, most valuable people. I say that based on results, they're not worth a damn anyway. (Have you ever noticed the same group of senior executives just bounces around from airline to airline? Have you ever noticed almost all the major carriers have been bankrupt at least once? Do you see a pattern?)
Over 400 pilots will soon be on the streets, too, but with their substantial incomes I would hope they would have put some $$$ away and can afford to stay in their homes and maintain their lifestyles. But what about when the survivors retire? Are there replacements working their way up the ladder? The commuter airlines (think of them as major airline farm teams) say the quality of their applicants is at an all-time low. The appeal of an airline job just isn't there any longer. This certainly won't help.
Yep, the glamor of flying is definitely gone. Has been for years. "Get in, sit down, shut up, and hold on." Sad.