This is another in the occasional series from the Airline Industry:
From The Flight Deck
Word of impending layoffs is swirling around the airline industry like contrails in an evening sky, and many of us who work to move millions of passengers throughout our country and overseas each year are facing what at best can be described as an uncertain future.
Every airline is struggling with fuel costs that have eliminated profit margins, some are on the verge of going under, and meanwhile, Congress dithers, twiddles its thumbs, pontificates, in other words "blows smoke." The economy is tanking over oil costs but Congress runs its collective mouth about "Big Oil" and "obscene profits," which somehow are materializing from a roughly 9 percent profit margin.
Oh and let's nail those despicable speculators too, rather than increasing the oil supply which would result in plummeting prices.
We, meaning airline employees, might make it through the summer travel season, but it doesn't look good for the fall. Furlough is the word on the lips of many pilots, first officers, flight crews, ramp workers, and ticket agents.
Furlough. Sounds nice doesn't it? Almost has the ring of 'vacation' to it. But it isn't nice and certainly not a vacation. Furlough means 'let go,' it means 'lay off,' it means 'fire.' Unemployment here we come.
As the number of flight personnel goes down, ticket prices will take off right along with the limited number of flights available, and the economy will take another major blow - all linked to Congress' refusal to allow new drilling or refining.
Congress has decided to make a leap into alternative forms of fuel, with no transition to ease the impact on the economy. It is obvious Congress would rather shut down the airline industry for short term political gain, than use common sense in how we move forward on the energy issue.
I am a proponent of moving away from fossil fuels that pollute our atmosphere. But I also understand that it can't happen overnight without an extreme impact on the national economy. So many people are employed in so many jobs relating to the pumping, transporting, refining and delivery of oil in all its myriad uses, that to shut down a huge chunk of the oil industry overnight means to throw millions out of work.
I take personal umbrage at Congress - particularly the Democratic members - putting its own agenda ahead of the welfare of the American worker.
I didn't start out flying for an airline, but that was my dream. I was in another profession for several years, and during that time worked for my private pilot's license, and amassed flight hours in general aviation. When I had sufficient experience to move into commercial aviation I worked hard and scrimped for years so I could take a year off to study and train for my commercial ratings.
I didn't get a break from the government, I wasn't enrolled in a program that paid my living expenses while I had The Audacity of Hope. I actually believed that if I worked hard, used self-discipline, saved my money, and studied my flight manuals and FAA regulations I just might achieve a position with an airline.
In the end my work and study paid off and I was hired by a major carrier. I have steadily moved up in the ranks and have taken on increasing responsibilities as the years pass.
But that is coming to a screeching halt. Thank you ever so much Democratic Congress.
Thank you Barack Obama for conveniently ignoring airlines as you spew this non-stop drivel that America can somehow be altered overnight to travel on batteries or alternative fuels.
Sure, fill the fuel tank of a 757 with corn niblets or soybeans and see how far that gets you.
Do the members of Congress who are known for their long distance junkets and "fact-finding" flights to exotic ports need to be reminded that for their long and mid-distance flights, airlines use JET engines? Jet engines work on jet fuel. Not something else. Jet fuel. Get it? Jet fuel.
Jet fuel comes from crude oil. It will take years of testing to find alternative forms of fuel for jet aircraft, considering how many thousands are flying across the globe every hour of every day, and how much power those alternative fuels must deliver to get an airliner off the ground.
Claiming that commercial aircraft can be converted to untried forms of fuel overnight is not just wrong, it is outright dangerous.
Think about it. Do you want to fly on an aircraft that as a result of a government decree has been converted to a bio fuel for which it isn't designed? Go ahead. This time, I'll let you go right to the head of the line.
As I understand the purpose of government, its number one priority is the security of the nation, which I take to mean both physical and economic security. But Congress has failed to provide for our energy security, which in turn means Congress has failed to provide for our economic security and thus our physical security.
Mr. Obama says he wants to "inspire" America on many fronts including using alternative fuels. But all I see is Congress "inspiring" the airline industry to lay off, fire and cut services. Way to go Barack.
It occurred to me that the entire US House of Representatives is up for election this fall. It further occurred to me that the incumbent in my home district is a Democrat who voted against renewed oil drilling and refining.
I wonder if he has the Audacity of Hope to think there is any possible way I will be voting for him this November?
Friday, July 04, 2008