Enforced part-time

Having not flown much for the past two years due to COVID, my company continues to put first officers on enforced seasonal part-time contracts after two years’ service, working two weeks on/two weeks off in winter. This is damaging to crew morale when the company are recruiting cadets on full time contracts with a higher base salary. But, most importantly, having flown so little over the past two years, I feel anxious and lacking recency when I am flying at most 4 days a month at the moment. I make mistakes that I wouldn’t have made before when I was flying more often and my capacity is often much reduced. This is detrimental to safety and my career in my opinion.

The issue stems back to [Airline] wanting seasonal flexibility with pilots. The compromise was that cadets now get directly employed full time from day one of their [Airline] career but go onto never-ending seasonal part time contracts after two years. With cadet recruitment ongoing and new cadets taking any additional winter FTE, I feel I’m being replaced by recruitment.

CAA Comment

CHIRP cannot comment on terms of service or employment contracts and so concern over enforced part-time is not a subject on which we can make observations per se. However, the issue of reduced currency over the winter period for seasonal airlines is a perennial potential safety concern that has been exacerbated in recent years by the overall greatly reduced schedules that some airlines have had to adopt due to COVID restrictions. The company comment indicates that they are alive to the issue and have put mitigations in place through support programmes and measures that encourage crews to seek assistance from their line managers if they feel they need further support. It is to be hoped that the culture within the company is such that crew members feel that they can avail themselves of such support without fear of compromising their careers. On a practical level, if you are concerned about your levels of currency due to reduced amounts of flying then it’s vitally important that you share that with the other crew members pre-flight so that they can factor that in to their expectations and TEM assessments of overall crew competency.