What advice do you have for the rest of us that still plan on going to ATP despite the continuous downsizing and furloughing from the industry?
The mood of my blog has been pretty somber. I'm not flying much. I'm getting displaced. Airlines are furloughing. The sky is falling. Well okay the sky isn't falling....but things aren't so great.
I was hired at my airline in October 2007. During that time it was on the downside of a hiring boom. The real boom started late 2005/early 2006. By May 2008 the boom was over. But it will come again. Hiring at airlines has ALWAYS been in waves. We are at a low point right now.
For those that are training or hope to train for the airlines my advice would be to do it.....but don't hold your breath. For ATP specifically I would do the self paced program AND keep a good paying job! That's the way I did it. Keep you job the entire time while training. If you finish the ATP program and the airlines aren't hiring....you still have a job! Save up a few hundred a month (I did say GOOD paying job!) and rent a cheap Cessna 152/172 once or twice a month to stay current and have some fun. When the airlines start hiring you can start applying while KEEPING your good paying job. Once you get hired you leave your GOOD paying job for an airline gig.
Right now there are a lot of pilots on the street. I predict most won't come back as a regional airline pilot First Officer. The next time airlines hire, the applicants will come from other regional pilots who have been furloughed, major airline pilots who need a job to stay current/health insurance and pilots who are new to the industry. This is all my opinion of course. My opinions and $2.40 will get you a venti coffee at Starbucks.
I can't stress enough to have a plan B. Have a backup plan. Get a college degree. Having a degree will allow you to have a plan B and help you get a job at an airline. I have friends that didn't get a degree, got a gig at an airline, GOT FURLOUGHED and are now fighting to get a job with everyone else who is unemployed. Having a degree makes you look just a little bit better than the other guy at an airline and in the regular workforce. I have a Bachelors of Arts in Photojournalism with a double major in Sociology........but I still have a degree.
For those that can't do the ATP self paced program (because you don't live close to a training center), I would get your private pilot license close to home. Just about every small airport trains pilots. Walk into the local FBO and ask or scan the bulletin board for training. When you are done, see how the industry is doing. If it still sucks, then get your Instrument rating close to home. Airlines still not doing well? Keep flying around for fun building time towards your commercial. Airlines suddenly on a hiring spree? Well now it's time to make a decision. Risk it all by quitting your good paying job and hammering out the remaining ratings at ATP? Maybe you have enough for your commercial rating so you can go to ATP for your CFI tickets and then instruct at ATP building the multi-hours you need to get hired by a regional? Whatever the situation you had a plan B. Always have a plan B.
The next hiring spree will come. The age 65 rule delayed a mass exodus....but those "crusty" Captains are still aging. Those who make it to 65 will be forced to retire. Many will retire before 65 due to health reasons (unable to hold a 1st class medical) or they just had enough and are ready to hang up their wings.
Till then, Blue up, Brown down.