Real Answers from Real Pilots

Airline Business

Hi all! Probably a very niche question here, but in addition to being very interested in flying planes, I do have a passion for learning about business strategy/operations, and the aviation industry is by far my favorite. However, I’ve discovered the daily life of a corporate job is simply not for me (hence my interest in becoming a pilot). As a pilot, do you get any visibility into the strategy and operations of the business of the airline? Some areas I would love to learn about and be able to potentially see in action are:

-Fleet planning and deployment (which planes to purchase and which routes they’re used on)
-Route network planning/strategy
-Fare pricing strategy
-Scheduling
-Maintenance scheduling and utilization maximization

Of course, don’t want to be able to see the exact algorithms or the spreadsheet used, but I was just wondering if pilots had any visibility or receive any communication about these business processes in their day to day. Thanks for the help!

Andrew,

I don’t think you’ll be able to see behind the curtain unless the company allows pilots to sign a confidentiality agreement, but of course if you know who to talk to I’m sure they would be happy to talk to you about it (or at least as much as they are allowed to).

Tory

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Andrew,

In general the answer is no. No one in corporate wants a line pilot looking over their shoulder and for some reason almost every pilot in the World believes they’re smarter and can run the airline better! Which seldom is true but very annoying.

However, if you do have an interest in seeing “behind the curtain” and even getting involved in some of the various departments, once you’re at your airline you might want to consider volunteering for some union work. Many of our committee volunteers do get to work very closely with some of the various depts (scheduling, manpower, training, etc). That said no airline is ever going to let a pilot get involved with finance (they know we’d use it against them in negotiations) and the maintenance folks would have a fit if we showed up there.

Adam

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That definitely makes sense. Didn’t even think about it from the union angle and how they wouldn’t want to give away that information. Thank you!