Sadly, salary is the answer to that question. John Goglia over at Forbes shines a light on the subject once again and poses an interesting question… is the flying public willing to pay more for a ticket to support a higher living wage for regional pilots?
But when we talk about living wages, remember, too, the airline you are likely to be flying is a regional airline – and the pilot may well be an entry level one. Regional pilots are unlikely to have a union and unlikely to be walking out on their jobs to join a picket line, especially if they ever dream of making it to Captain or get hired at one of the major airlines. But once we’re talking about how much more a hamburger would cost to give workers a living wage, we should consider how much more would an airline ticket cost if we paid regional pilots a living wage.
So, just how low are the annual starting salaries at the regionals? Here’s a graphic depiction inclusive of the legacy regionals that no longer exist…
Commenter Aviation Law notes that – When the system allows the lowest bidders to bottom feed for employees, we find out the hard way where unrestrained free markets end up – in a smoking hole outside Buffalo. Regarding the assertion that regional pilots should live where they are based, the commentator ignores the fact that regional airline contracts are a moving target, going wherever the “low bid of the day” takes the outsourced contract. A pilot making $16,000 per year couldn’t possibly guess where they might be based six months from now, much less have the time off to find an affordable apartment. There is a necessary place in the market for regulation, and the regional airline model is simply a model that tries to duck the system for the sake of cheap tickets.
Salary data courtesy XB70Valyrie
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