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Mon, Jul 17, 2006

Furloughed Pilots Refusing Recall?

Many Saying It Just Isn't Worth It

As the airlines slowly recover from those terrible days following 9/11... they're starting to recall flight crews. As many as 8,000 were furloughed as the economic disaster that befell this industry unfolded. But now that some of them are being asked to return to work... many are saying, in essence, "Hell no, we won't go."

Pilots at Delta Air Lines report only one pilot has agreed to return for every three pilots asked back. Other airlines, such as American, US Airways and Northwest say that ratio is more like five-to-one.

What's keeping those pilots away? Well, for one, many of the pilots furloughed in 2001 have since gotten jobs in other industries... and as much as they may love to fly, it makes little sense for them to give up those jobs over the prospect of working longer hours, and for less money, to help keep finacially shaky airlines afloat.

Others say they don't want to be away from home as much as 22 days a month... up from the 15 or 16 that was the standard just a few years ago.

As other airlines contemplate recalls, Air Line Pilots Association President Duane Woerth tells the Washington Post those carriers have to face pilots who are very aware of the precarious nature of the business... and who watch the news like anyone else.

"Every single time there is some international incident, oil jumps five bucks a barrel," said Woerth. "The pilot thinks: 'I just relocated my family once, and I'm going to have to relocate them again, and some unknown event will happen. Some airline will panic and furlough me again.' They just don't want to get caught in that whipsaw."

Could this lead to a shortage of qualified flight crews? Wouldn't that be ironic...

FMI: www.alpa.org

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