Poor Airline Service Caused By Under-Staffing?

Working for an airline used to be a good job, according to Capt. Gene Malone, who as a pilot for American Airlines, saw his pay drop to $140,000 from $175,000 after the airline won concessions to stay out of bankruptcy. “An airline career is not worth it anymore,” says Capt. Malone. “It’s a very different profession than it was 23 years ago when I started.” It’s not just the pilots who are unhappy at doing more work for less money, the airlines are having trouble hiring people.

From the Wall Street Journal [Via AZCentral]:

Wrestling suitcases on and off planes got so grueling late last year for Southwest Airlines Co.’s 350 ramp workers in Chicago that by Christmas season one-fourth of them were reporting on-the-job injuries. Starting pay for the position: $8.75 an hour.
Airlines used to offer prestigious jobs with good wages and coveted flight benefits. Now, in the aftermath of aggressive cutbacks, a growing number of airline jobs are more akin to those at a fast-food restaurant. The pay is low, the work is tough and, in a new twist, airlines are having trouble hanging onto workers and finding new ones.

“What once was a glamorous job … doesn’t look so good any more,” says Andy Roberts, executive vice president of operations for Northwest Airlines Corp. Mr. Roberts says Northwest and its peers used to have a list of applicants “as long as your arm.” Now, “we have to go seek them out, even pilots.”

Lack of staff causes delays. Lack of gate workers mean that airplanes sit on tarmacs, full of angry travelers.

Recently, some airlines have been adding staff, but the WSJ says the conditions are unlikely to improve. The airlines just aren’t nice places to work anymore, and unhappy employees make for unhappy customers. —MEGHANN MARCO

As pay and benefits fall, airlines struggle to fill jobs [Arizona Republic]