Hi Capt Lim,
Thank you so much for your articles. I have never used to be afraid of flying as a child, but as an adult, I became more aware of mishaps. Nevertheless, I continue to fly for two to three times a year because it is much more convenient than driving. I have discovered that alcoholic beverage really helps me to enjoy the flight more (who cares what time of day it is!)
I would like to know how an airline deals with a strike. When new employees are hired to replace those who have gone on strike, what measures are taken to get the new staff (pilots and mechanics) up to speed?
Thank you so much for allowing me to access you through this email. I really value your well-researched insider view.
Yes, I know strikes are bad for air transportation and they inconvenience everyone. Some countries make it illegal for pilots to strike (profitable Singapore Airlines is one) as they consider this an essential service.
Nevertheless, strikes have made many airlines in the developed world - especially in the USA, to file for bankruptcies. No wonder, my friend, Captain Robert J Boser (ex-United Airlines) and editor of AirlineSafety.com has always been against the strong demands of Union. I like his report on how one Union chief (ALPA) had told the United Airlines management: "We don't want to kill the golden goose. We just want to choke it by the neck until it gives us every last egg." Contrast this strong-union demand with those from non-union airlines, one example - Jet Blue. It has continued to hire new employees, buy new airliners, expand their routes and has full employment, while some union airlines have had to park airplanes, cut out routes and lay off employees. United Airlines - among one of the largest airlines in the world, is now bleeding - partly due to a very strong union!
Having said that, strikes or illegal work slowdowns do affect the operation of an airline. But, do they affect the flight safety of airlines? My view is that - they do not. Why? Airline pilots generally treat their jobs with the greatest professionalism and any deliberate attempts to subvert the airlines with unsafe practices will taint their personal flying records for life. Where flying is concerned, the pilots can assure you of a safe flight anytime!
When new pilots are employed to replace those who have gone on strike, the management of a major airline will make sure that they are adequately trained and checked out before they are even allowed to touch the flight controls of any commercial airliners. (I cannot however vouch for this in small airlines in the less developed countries). Yes, there are no short cuts to put pilots and mechanics up to speed where safety is concerned. When it is felt that an inexperienced crew will jeopardize a flight, the airline will make sure that the flight will not take off!
Wish you a safe flight!