SARS was a more similar scenario to what we face today and it took longer for people to come back to their “usual” flying needs. Still, however, with many people recovering and doing well, treatment being available and effective, there was no real need for flying with planes half empty. It was not long that people were flying with the middle seats occupied as well. Gradually, flight attendants who were furloughed (and I suppose people in other airline jobs as well) were returning to their jobs, unless some decided that this emotional roller coaster was not for them and found another job elsewhere. It was, in a way, unwanted “cleansing,” when those whose heart was not entirely in it, decided to find work elsewhere.
The major difference between 9/11 and SARS and Coronavirus is, that 9/11 and SARS has affected mainly people in aviation, transportation and hospitality fields. Other jobs were not affected as badly, and most people could still live an almost normal life.
Coronavirus does not let us live our lives as usual. It is more vicious. People forgot what a true epidemic, let alone a pandemic, can be like. There have been also a number of real social changes in America which affect people’s reaction to today’s virus. I am not happy to say this, but a lot more Americans these days are more selfish, more arrogant and more ignorant. It is not just the people we meet in the park, who do not wear masks or congregate in big numbers. It is also people who are supposedly more educated, people who claim to care about others, such as politicians at all levels.
While people in many other countries tend to be more responsible and agree that it is time to give up some of the little things we have taken for granted, people in this country react with anger, claiming that their personal liberties are taken away from them. Those folks should go and live in countries like North Korea, China, and many African countries to realize how lucky we are here to enjoy so much, while being asked so little.
What I am trying to say is that it may be really a long time before the virus is conquered to the level that we may start returning to normal life without fear, primarily because of a relatively small group of ignorant people. Their reckless actions will influence all of us, and unless these people smarten up our country will become a country without a future.
Let’s hope, though, that perhaps, by some sort of a miracle, people will smarten up, and in a few years there will be again opened positions with U.S. airlines and your dream to become a flight attendant or a pilot will not be as far-fetched as it is now. What should you do in the meantime, aside from hanging onto your dream?
As I suggested in April’s write-up here, use the time to your advantage. I will touch on several possibilities, going by your age – from just finishing High School to finishing college; from having limited experience in customer service to getting plenty not just to have a great resume, but also to gain truly a great understanding and insight into what a great customer service means; what the middle aged – from the younger middle aged to the older middle aged folks – can do to improve their marketability in aviation. Without sparing any words, I will also touch on the importance of building your skills day by day, and never rely on that someone will hire you based on “affirmative action.” Affirmative action was perhaps the biggest disservice to all people, not just people of color, by our politicians. Always rely only on your knowledge and skills.
This is primarily an advice for people who wish to become flight attendants or would like to work in some of the customer service positions at the airport. Since it may be years before there are openings for new people with the airlines in this country, you should seriously consider learning a new language or two, for three reasons: you’ll have the time to do it, you can do it in your spare time and it increases your marketability.
If you speak only English, start with a language that has some common roots with English – French, German, Swedish or Dutch. There may be enough people speaking German and French in this country, but airlines may have a hard time to find persons who speak Dutch or Swedish when international flying picks up. And never forget, the more languages you know, the easier it is to learn others.
Hispanics who are in this country legally have an advantage that they are usually bi-lingual already as kids. But there are so many, that it is not as much of an advantage – so try to learn also Portuguese (preferably Brazilian, as most U.S. airlines will expand to South America again, rather than starting flights to Portugal), Italian, or French.
If you speak Mandarin Chinese, try to learn Cantonese as well. Also, try to improve on your written Chinese words – chances are that if you were born here and speak Mandarin, you still cannot read and write Chinese characters. If you are someone who is not familiar with Asian language, I’d strongly discourage you from trying to learn any of the major Asian languages, unless you have an opportunity to study in an “emersion” environment. But even then, it’s unlikely you will learn how to write and read in that language.
Since it may take time before the airlines hire new people again, you might also look into other fields – if you were good at school, try to get a degree in Business. That might prepare you for “post-flight attendant” or “post hands-on piloting” career, such as in management.
But perhaps the most important thing to do is to find a job and hang onto it, because you’ll be always more likely to land the airline job if you are employed already. It is an uphill battle if you are unemployed when you are applying and interviewing. Do not hop from one job to another too often, airlines like when your longevity with an employer is at least 3 years or longer. Why?
People, who change jobs often, are viewed mostly as people who either cannot grasp the important parts of the job and do not perform well, or as people who “do not fit in,” people who are not team players. Those people are seen like they just stay long enough to make some money, but are not really what a company needs. And, no matter what anyone says, staying with an employer longer simply looks good on your resume, shows your stability.
The other thing that shows stability is how often you have moved. If you move too often from a place to place, you are seen as a drifter (unless your spouse has been in the military and you had to move because of your spouse’s transfers).
As I mentioned, this “low” for aviation may last this time much longer than we have seen in the past. It would be wise also to start thinking if there might be another field you‘d be interested in, so that if it ever happened again and you’d be furloughed after flying for a few years (it has been some 15 years between the lows due to 9/11 and SARS and current calamity), you’d have an alternate job to go to. You need to think long term because you need to be able to save up for old age (sounds funny, but it’s true). Do not think that Social Security Insurance would be enough to live on when you can or have to retire.
If you are a truly caring person who likes people, then nursing is the field to go into – either as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN), or a Registered Nurse (RN). It is conceivable that after the experience with the virus last Spring, when there was extreme shortage of nurses, there will be government financial resources and incentives to study nursing, and get it done in a short time to become a nurse. You might still have some time to gain good clinical experience in the field, and that would make you all the more valuable to the airlines. Becoming a teacher may become another profession where the government will need to invest in people, just judging by what is happening now.
So, do those things while you wait. Don’t start thinking about it when it is time to start applying. Don’t just go between all kinds of jobs and unemployment, because that is a turn off for the interviewer.
Who should do those things? Primarily young people who have just finished high school or college. If you are in the middle of your college studies and have the itch to drop out - DON’T. That would be the biggest mistake you could make. But do something else. If you just finished high school and can’t find a job, try volunteering – be it Goodwill, Salvation Army, hospitals or now one of those places that distributes food for the needy. College students can do that as well. Again, it looks great on your resume.
If you are between 20-35 years old (and still hoping to fly) and just lost a job, don’t just go and apply for two or three jobs every day, try to volunteer as well. It never hurt anyone and it always shows that you cared. I know that job is important and money does not come easy, but never forget that it is important to drum up good references – and those got to come from other people who can say they know you or have worked with you. Besides, it will keep you busy so you won’t have time to get depressed. It may also help to create a bit of networking for yourself – you may need interesting people who might help.
It is a sad fact that the older you get, the chances that you will be a successful applicant for the flight attendant job will get smaller. If you are between 40 and 50 now, it is not impossible, but younger people will have better chances. You just have to compensate for your age in other ways: you can show charm without looking like a pushover. Your experience and knowledge from previous jobs that can be useful with the airlines is something you need to stress. Show class; show you got that “something” passengers will respond to.
And don’t forget to use all that waiting time for your airline interview preparation. With this much time and materials that are available - combined with support - failure will not be an option. If you have any particular questions, please e-mail me: email@example.com.
Shares of two main corporate jet manufacturers, Textron and Dassault, have dropped by 40% in value. Shares of the two principal commercial aircraft manufacturers, Airbus in France and Boeing in the U.S., have also lost on world’s stock exchanges. Companies making smaller regional jets and turboprops, such as Brazilian Embraer, Canadian Bombardier and French ATR are even worse off, as they were in the middle of merger talks when the virus hit – Airbus was hoping to absrob ATR and Bombardier, while Boeing though it was “deal done” with Embraer.
Hardly anyone (save for a handful of plane leasing companies) is buying new planes now, and airlines have either postponed deliveries of new planes or cancelled orders altogether. Over half of global passenger fleet (more that 14,000 airliners) is mothballed just about anywhere around the world where the planes could be parked. Some airlines that had to park the planes may not survive. That may become a boon to potential entrepreneurs a few years down the road who will try to start new, mostly low cost, airlines.
Airbus and Boeing, two principal makers of large airliners, have serious problems as well, not just because of surplus of parked airplanes. Boeing has a huge problem with the B737MAX, and the plane still has not been approved to go back into service. But the problems around it, and the outright scandal exposing the “buddy-buddy” relationship between the FAA and Boeing, and the bad attitude problem among Boeing’s engineers and workers, have created a much worse problem overall – every new aircraft will have to undergo a lot more stringent testing before it goes on to be sold. That will affect both Boeing and Airbus, though Airbus – lacking this cozy relationship with certification bodies around the world - is affected less. Airbus also seems to have always shown a much higher level of professionalism than Boeing at most levels.
The slowdown of sales both at Airbus and Boeing, along with used aircraft piling up everywhere where they can be kept, creates a domino effect. Suppliers of parts to these two companies have no one else to sell their parts, and are close to, or in bankruptcy. This huge build up in airplane inventory means that production of new ones will not resume at pre-covid levels at all plane-makers in many years. Unless their suppliers find a way to manufacture something else, they’ll be out of business. That means that if and when the production of planes picks up again, someone else will have to step in to make the parts that used to be manufactured by the old suppliers, and that will take time to take it all up and running. Things got even more difficult for Boeing at the beginning of September (2020), when new problems arose in the B787 production.
Boeing employees have at least some work in the future guaranteed when the FAA will finally release guidelines for “fixing up” all the B737MAX that have been produced up to date. It will be a massive undertaking to get all those that have been flying, and those that waited for delivery to meet the directives. But no matter what happens, the plane makers have a lot of thinking to do about how to navigate production in the future.