The secret life behind the cockpit door. Rob Graves, an airline Captain, betrays the profession telling all the details of what it's like to be an airline pilot from dodging thunderstorms to life in hotels.
Monday, October 17, 2016
Delta is the Best!
Here's an amusing comparison from a Delta captain of block hours, revenue, and profits at the big four carriers that I found on a pilot forum...
Delta is THE BEST...
...Just ask them! A Delta Pilot's perspective on how the big 4 measure up.
The COMPLICITY of DALPA in the COMPANY LIE
Hello all, me again, with more numbers to share. As of late we've been all up in arms
about the status of negotiations. And somewhat displeased and confused by the rumors of
what's happening inside the MEC and perhaps even in a panic by the NMB parking us. No
doubt these are all depressing things for the average line pilots.
Well, relax a second. I'd like to take a moment of your time to give you some numbers
that will lift up your spirits and make you proud to be a DELTA pilot working for a truly
good company. Ironically, my numbers will also expose a number of lies our boss, the
company and DALPA are trying to sell us.
The Steve Dickson LIE - If you have attended a meeting recently in which our boss, a good
guy by most accounts, has briefed us about the status of the company - you will have
heard him say that the company needs improved productivity from the pilots. He has said
to me directly, that we are the least productive pilots in the industry. That our average
block hours per pilot per month are well below our competitors and that we must make
improvements to remain competitive. If you look at the data from MIT, at first, his
statement appears to have some validity.
Let's look at the big three and half airlines for comparison. They are American, United,
Delta and Southwest. The first three are similar in size and SW is about 60 percent of
the other's size. According to MTI, the average pilot flies...
> 46.9 hours per month at American
> 40.2 hours per month at United
> 43.1 hours per month at Delta
And - those energizer bunny guys at SWA...
> they fly 57.8 hours per month (Whooah!)
[data based on 2015 total annual block hours flown, divided by total pilots, divided by
Okay - first little lie. We're not the least productive, by the above data we are number
three and United is dead last. Clearly lazy bastards with too much quality of life
(remember this statement). But - geeze, those SWA boys and girls are kicking everyone
else's asses in productivity. How do they do it? I can see Management is dying to ramp us
to that level of efficiency... but is it really?
Block hours flown is not a complete picture. A better picture is how much revenue each
company pulls in with their annual block hours. So - let's compare annual block hour
generation first. In 2015...
> American with 12,363 pilots flew 3,478,489 total block hours
> Delta with 11,476 pilots flew 2,966,095 total block block hours
> United with 11,128 pilots flew 2,687,068 total block hours
Again - American, averaging 46.9 per month seems to have a clear lead among the big
three, but fucking SWA, wow...
> Southwest with a mere 7,457 pilots flew 2,587,191 block hours (almost equal to
united) - [could it be their taxi speeds?]
Clearly the Managements of the bigger three want to know SWA's secret and salivate over
the thought of driving us to such high levels of productivity. Look at SWA, you guys can
do just as good!
On a side note, Dickson's least productive guys delivered the second highest amount of
block hours to their company last year.
But - this is a rather meaningless number without looking at the revenue the block hours
generated. Revenue generated per block hour is important because it is an excellent
indicator of comparative fleet capacity effects on money generation. And of the big
three, Delta has the least wide bodies, and SWA has none.
In 2015 the big three and half generated the following total revenues:
> American's 3.478 million block hours delivered 41.084 billion $.
> Delta's 2.966 million block hours delivered 40.704 billion $.
> United's 2.687 million block hours delivered 37.864 billion $.
> And SWA's 2.587 million block hours only got 19.820 billion $.
Stated another way - as in dollars per block hour, a measure of efficiency of the
operation, it looks like this.
> SWA earned $7,661 per block hour flown.
> American earned $11,811 per block hour flown.
> United earned a whopping $14,091 per block hour flown.
Wait a minute, weren't those United guys the lazy goofs who only flew 40.2 hours per
month? Aren't they less productive than everyone else? Why isn't this lining up with
Steve Dickson's accusations? Liar... Oh, and what about Delta.
> Delta earned $13,723 per block hour flown.
Hey! Don't we have the second lowest average block hours flown per month per pilot? Yet
we produced the second highest amount of revenue per block hour of all the airlines.
Could that mean that there is less a correlation of block hours flown to revenue than
fleet capacity per hour flown to revenue? And doesn't more hours mean less quality of
life? Those poor rabbits at SWA are running hither and dither working way harder than
anyone else yet barely generating half the total revenue. Could there be a problem with
an all narrow-body fleet mix. Could there be a correlation with United having the most
wide bodies being able to produce the most revenue with the least effort, perhaps even
having a better QOL than us Delta guys? I'd say yes.
The good news fellow Delta pilots, by this measure we are in second place among the
airlines. But wait...there's more. Revenue is just one measure of a company's
productivity. Each airline is unique for its expenses, so let's look at how good they are
making money, not in terms of revenue, but in terms of profits.
PROFIT EARNINGS - WHO's the BEST?
You have revenue and then expenses and what's left is profit. This is the REAL measure of
pilot productivity. Not total work generated but rather total profits generated by equal
work. Since each company is different in size and make up, and in it's total block hours
flown, we have to go one step further and look at how much profit each pilot generates
for its company per year, all things being equal, that means per block hour. Alright -
let's see who has the best business model going.
> SWA generated 3.479 billion in profits. That works out to $1,344 and 70 cents per
block hour flown. As it takes two pilots to fly a block hour, each pilot at SWA generates
$672.35 in profits per block hour flown.
> American generated 4.668 billion in profits. That is $1,341.96 per block hour and
$670.98 in profits per pilot per block hour.
> United generated 4.219 billion in profits. That is $1,570.12 per block hour and
$785.06 per United pilot per block hour.
And what about the home team? Dickson's "least productive" pilots in the
industry? The ones who are third in average block hours flown and only second in revenue
generated? The one's Management MUST have become more productive lest the competition
bury us? The one's DALPA is bending over backwards to rob QOL from in order to meet the
Yeah, what about us Delta line guys and gals?
> Delta generated an amazing 7.157 billion in profits last year.
That is $2,412 and 94 cents per block hour, which is 53.7 percent better than the
powerhouse United gang and almost double the others.
THAT - is a whopping $1,206.47 in profits per pilot per block hour flown.
Ladies and gentlemen, fellow Delta pilots, esteemed comrades, despite our in fighting,
our fears, and management's lies and distortions...
WE ARE NUMBER ONE. WE ARE THE BEST. WE ARE PRODUCING THE MOST PROFIT PER PILOT PER BLOCK
HOUR THAN ANYONE ELSE. PERIOD!
Take pride - wear your orange, fight for what you deserve!
(Mr. Dickson - take your lack of productivity message and ditch it. DALPA, negotiate us
what we are truly worth).