Friday, August 17, 2007

Meet the New Boss

It's official. My time at my current airline is coming to a close. I was offered the position I interviewed for on Tuesday and I've decided to accept.

I've seen a few comments and received a few emails from people making a bigger deal of this than it is. This isn't a major airline, nor a national or an LCC or a cargo carrier. This is a lateral move to another regional airline, albeit a brand new one where I'll get seniority very quickly and hopefully upgrade after a few months of flying as an FO.

Once again I need to make a decision about how anonymous I want my blogging to be. I've decided to keep on like I've been doing, where I never mention my company by name (and ask you not to either) but keep it thinly veiled enough for those with knowledge of the industry to know who it is.

The fact that this is a new regional means there are basically two airlines that it could be, and no, it's not the one flying Megawhackers. The airplane I'll be flying is a new 76 seat jet made by a certain South American manufacturer. It looks like the young progeny of a B737 and a A320; I'm still trying to think of a suitable nickname for it. Any suggestions? For now I'm gonna go with ElectroFluf, a nice amalgamation of A320 and B737 nicknames.

I'm going to call my new company "NewCo" - this was actually it's informal name when it was in the planning stages. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of a major airline we'll call "RedCo." NewCo
was formed as part of a deal between RedCo's management and their pilot union during bankruptcy. RedCo has a large fleet of aging DC-9's that need replacing. It is expected that NewCo's flying will replace some of the DC9's; it's possible that RedCo will purchase the ElectroFluf's larger brother to fill in the gap between the ElectroFluf and the A319. In exchange for outsourcing some of their flying to NewCo, RedCo's pilots have the ability to flow down to the top of NewCo's seniority list if RedCo ever furloughs. This flows both ways: when RedCo hires, NewCo pilots will be given first priority to flow up to RedCo.

The upsides to the move are obvious. I'm getting into NewCo fairly early on - I'll be around #100 on a seniority list that's expected to grow to 400 by the end of 2008. I'll see more seniority in a few months at NewCo than I saw in 3.5 years at my current airline. I'll gain turbine PIC fairly quickly, making it easier to go to a major airline of my choice or even flow up to RedCo after 30 months if things turn around there.

On the other hand, I'm frankly not very thrilled about the circumstances under which NewCo was formed, or the fact that I'll be flying an airplane that arguably belongs at mainline for regional wages. This is mitigated somewhat by the fact that RedCo pilots negotiated NewCo's existence as well as NewCo's first pilot contract, a majority of RedCo pilots voted for it, and RedCo pilots got something out of the deal in the form of job security if furloughs ever take place. I rather doubt any DC9 pilots are going to be furloughed as RedCo is beginning to hire and has a large order of B787s on the way. A major plus for me is that NewCo will have ALPA on property from the very first day. While the negotiated contract isn't that great (it's just average for the regionals), it's a first contract and having a union on property will help NewCo pilots improve it. I plan on getting involved, as I have been at my current company.

I'm going to miss it here. I like this company and really enjoy the flying and the crewmembers I work with here. It's time to move on, though. My class date at NewCo is 28 September; until then, I'm enjoying the Megawhacker for one last bid.


Anonymous said...

I always thought the thing was the jungle jet, thats even what some ATC says. Love the new E jets, you are so lucky and congrats!!!!

B. N. Sullivan said...

So, when you move to jets, will you then be blogging from a little higher FL??


(just teasin' ya!)

Evan said...

thinly-veiled description? That's like a 1 mm-thick piece of saran wrap!

congratulations, anyway. I've been reading you blog for over a year now & will try to get around to introducing myself properly one of these days.

Venkatesh said...

So now that you took this job is commuting an option (i.e. no need to sell that great looking townhouse)? I recall another pilot at your now former airline who had a very entertaining podcast commuted from one of RedCo's hubs in the opposite direction.

LoadMasterC141 said...

Congrats Sam!

My dream, err SJS dream, is to fly Embraer 170/190's for Shuttle America. Sounds like you might be flying something, err, similar:) Not the same airline I am sure and don;t want to say what I think it is to honor your request.

Now I am gonna have to take you up on the free dinners I won on the "Where is Sam?" posts. I need to buddy buddy with ya so you can walk my resume in next year!

the other sam said...

Sam, congratulations! I'm very excited for you. Best of luck with selling the house and the move (if you can't commute). Can't wait to read about your new airline.

Fred said...

Congratulations, etc.!

Mike said...

I like the call E-Jets Embraerbuses.

Good luck with the lateral move and may 4 bars be right around the corner for you.

sequ said...


Reading you now for at least two years. Congratulations! Hope you enjoy the change. Challenging times ahead! Keep up the good work.

Un abrazo,


Anonymous said...

We call the 145s the Barbie Jet - maybe this is a "Mega Barbie"?

Nice work - well done!

Sam said...

Hmm...I've always heard the CRJ series referred to as the BarbieJet, and the ERJ 135/145 series as the JungleJet. I do like EmbraerBus!

There's no way I'd ever want to do that commute...the flights are ALWAYS packed between PDX and MSP, and there are a number of other commuters to beat you to the jumpseat. Besides part of the point of going to NewCo is that it gets Dawn and I back to MSP. So, the townhouse is still very much for sale!

I'll always be Blogging at FL250, only now my fuel flows are going to be atrocious at that altitude!

Anonymous said...

trust me, you'll love the embraers...been flying the megawhacker as well and recently upgraded to the embraers... especially in bad weather conditions they're a lot more agile...


Micha, from the old world.

amulbunny said...

What is it about MSP that draws people back there? I hope you have a great time with NewCo and that those new airplanes bring you lots of hours of happiness. Now you'll have to unpack all that winter gear and get snow tires.

Anonymous said...

Congrats, Sam. Pardon my not remembering (and being too lazy to look up) the list of pros and cons for the various options you were considering but it looks like you clearly made a good choice.

Just curious; any idea why the heavy traffic between PDX and MSP? I'd have never guessed that in a million years. I know both areas have lots of folks of Nordic descent, but besides that...

Best of luck,

Sam said...

Amulbunny - Honestly, having family in MSP is the only real attraction for us. Mind you, it's a nice town and a good place to raise a family, but it's really pretty hard to beat Portland as a great place to live. I'm seriously not looking forward to cold winters again. At least there are lots of direct flights to warm places.

Marty- You'd be absolutely shocked by the number of people in the Pacific Northwest that have connections to MN or surrounding states. When I tell Portlanders I'm from MSP, more often than not I hear "Oh, I am (My parents are) from Minnesota (Wisconsin/Iowa!)" Besides the family connections, there's a number of important business links, and PDX's northern location makes MSP a convenient choice for connections throughout the midwest and east coast. It adds up to packed flights PDX-MSP, SEA-MSP, and even often secondary markets like GEG-MSP or BOI-MSP.

Then again, maybe it's because somebody's not charging enough for tickets.

SloppyPilot said...

Congrats on the new gig.

I heard a news blib this AM on the drive radio talking about how many new pilots are going to be needed in the next few years. Here's to you moving up that ladder at NewCo!

Having kids with no extended family nearby can be tough. I don't know how many times my wife and I have heard the, "We took the kids to Grandparents/Uncles/etc so we could have a night/weekend/week off." Enjoy the support and tolerate the weather.

Anonymous said...


Given my travels, I am sure I'll end up on your new airline, so I'll be sure to listen for FO Sam in the announcements.

Best of luck to you and Dawn.

joaquin said...

Hey Sam--

Congratulations! I hope you end up enjoying your new job and new ride. I saw some ElectroFlufs when I was traveling through JFK last month - I think they're an interesting combination of svelte and smooth with gangling puppy. Something about them just looks a bit odd, but in a suave way. Perhaps they're the cool 8th-grader of regional jets - about to transition to the next step, but still retaining some pubescent awkwardness.

Anyway, I landed a CFI job in Bend which will hopefully give me lots of hours quickly for the next step. I'm not sure what that will be, but I will continue reading your blog to benefit from your many insights and inspirations!

Best, --Joaquin