Pay-to-fly: COVID style

In our long journey to find a cockpit (cockpitseeker), we had initially taken cautious steps to fit in an industry we weren’t sure we knew, yet the strange custom of paying airlines to work is something we never got around to, something we tried to help expose and eradicate through various initiatives over the years.

Unfortunately, the current state of our industry (needless to elaborate) lays bare our collective failure to cure the post-2008 degradation of our working conditions in time before the next crisis, this one, the COVID mayhem ; and it is fair to say that what was once “bad” became “worse”, what was once “simple” became “complicated” and what was once “affordable” became “unreachable”:

  • ATPL (theoretical), CPL and IR/ME were once enough to become an eligible airline pilot.
  • MCC emerged in the human factor era (even though re-taught during TR).
  • JOC, though regulatorily inexistant, is now fancied by some operators (at candidates’ expense).
  • UPRT, even though once part of the CPL course in “unusual positions/recovery” is now a full-fledged ATPL module (another candidate expense).
  • MPL, created to fast track pilots in the elusive pilot-shortage gap, was decoupled from job security to accommodate an operator and continues to churn out debt monkeys.
  • 100KSA is the new gimmick in town for the increasing pilot population deemed somehow “unfit”, yet that have more training more expensive than ever before.
  • TR is now naturally viewed as a candidate expense for most,
  • Line Training (LT), alas, is still sometimes considered a candidate expense (p2f).

If we acknowledge this trend, it is difficult to imagine an end to the conjuring of new modules out of thin air (€), that will address knee-jerk reactions to yet new industrial occurrences (crashes), studies, and unintended consequences from bastardized regulation (e.g. MPL pro pilots without either job security… or a SEP…). This needs to stop.

Below is the cherry-on-top, COVID style:


  • P2F contract from newborn SouthEast Airlines for independent “contractors” (“employees” is something airlines don’t have anymore).
  • A320 TR at 30k€
  • LT at 35k€
  • Immediate termination clause upon crew member union organization (!)
  • Immediate termination clause once “the crew member becomes, through […] refusal or failure to undergo inoculation, vaccination or other preventative treatment […] sick […] or unable to properly provide services without being a nuisance or menace to colleagues or others(§ 8.2 (e) (vi)) (notice the vague wording of the final words).

Without going pilotless, is it too much to ask from the now heavily subsidized airline industry to give half of us a break (the other half being unemployed) ? Year 2031 of COVID-30 will tell.

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