There’s no question that airlines are going to be smaller for awhile than they’ve been in the recent past. While there’s some talk about it taking until 2023 for air travel to fully recover from the coronavirus pandemic, I have to think that 2022 will be largely back to normal – if we don’t make hoped-for progress against the virus, it will have spread enough, with enough retained immunity, that continued spread won’t be nearly so efficient. And by the we should have much better treatments, if not vaccinations.
Nonetheless until then airlines will need fewer planes – and fewer employees. What was an acute worldwide pilot shortage quickly turns into a surplus. While United plans for 30% layoffs, and American Airlines offers generous early retirement packages, Qatar Airways is apparently ahead of the curve.
While the situation surrounding one pilot’s dismissal is unclear, they shared the note they report receiving from their airline. Qatar Airways terminated them effective immediately, and is paying seven days of severance in lieu of notice.
If that was the end of the story it would be unfortunate, but part of the grim reality that aviation and the world are facing today. However that wasn’t the end. Four and a half years ago this pilot entered into an agreement with the airline that amounted to indentured servitude – they’d continue flying in exchange for training, and if they were no longer employed as a pilot by the airline they’d have to make repayment towards their training costs.
Qatar Airways fired this pilot, have them seven days of severance, and presented them with a bill for US$162,343 at current exchange rates. Here’s the letter: