Airlines to cut down on staff

July 3rd, 2008 - 2:53 pm ICT by Amrit Rashmisrisethi  

United Airlines PlaneUnited Airlines pilot Todd Coomans has not yet fully recovered from a painful five years ago that set his airline career back several years and also cost him his marriage.

Now the 46-year-old first officer, who returned to United just a year and a half ago, is bracing for another layoff. “I can’t believe I’m going through it again,” said Coomans, who now may look for work in China.

“This is all I’ve done my adult life. I love flying,” Coomans said. “I don’t know if I can do this up and down every few years.” The sudden job loss put a pressure on his marriage that it ended in divorce.

Coomans and his colleagues are not alone.UAL, plans to cut up to 1,600 jobs because of the high fuel charges.

American Airlines said in May staff cuts were coming, and it would shed 900 flight attendants. Continental Airlines Inc plans to cut 3,000 jobs and US Airways Group Inc plans 1,700 cut.

Delta Air Lines Inc, which plans to merge with Northwest Airlines, said earlier this year it would eliminate 2,000 jobs. Northwest also expects job cuts.

The last hope for airlines to avoid potential devastation as fuel costs.

“Fuel costs — linked to record-high oil prices — have more than offset a series of fare hikes that led to profits in 2006 and 2007 after five years of losses. The Air Transport Association sees a $10 billion loss for airlines this year.”

Airline consultant Robert Mann noted hiring opportunities for pilots in the Middle East and Asia. Many of those jobs, however, are contract positions, meaning the job is not guaranteed once the contract ends.

Some pilots who are in the U.S. National Guard also may consider flying for the military, Mann said.

“So, there are options for those who had the foresight to create options,” he said. “I think it’s a function of what foresight you’ve had to create a safety net.”

Pilots who flew that plane lose status ,they worked hard to achieve. Senior pilots find themselves flying smaller planes on less-desirable routes or large planes with a lower rank.

“It just cascades,” Heppner said. “It ripples throughout the whole airline.”

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