Cargo pilots vs passenger pilots

speedman

New Member
it seems to me that a pilot career at a cargo company like FedEx or UPS is more stable than one at a passenger airline in the way that you don't hear much about either cargo airline furloughing many(if any at all) pilots. So is the cargo career more "stable" than the passenger career?
 

A300Capt

Freight Dawg
I've been saying that for years. There's really no comparison. A cargo airline like UPS or FedEx is a much more stable flying job than any passenger airline could ever hope to match. Current profit levels at Southwest and Jet Blue are pocket change to these two cargo power houses. Their profit levels are in the BILLIONS!

The bottom line is that you can pack a lot more profitable cargo/next day air envelopes into a jet than you can people. Years ago I was told that on the B727, which holds around 10 cans, that everything was profit after the first can. Our Airbuses hold 29 container cans total, burns just a little more fuel than the B727 and has a two man crew. It's not unusual to fly to places like DFW with over 100,000lbs of freight each day of the week. That's a lot of profit!

People may stop flying due to 9/11, TSA hassles, future terrorist acts etc. But, they still want to sit in the relative safety of their homes and order things on-line and have it delivered to their front door.

UPS was a power house company before starting their own airline. We're a small airline within a very large worldwide package and logistics company. You know, "synchronizing the world" and all that.

So far, UPS has not lost any money since 9/11. In fact, profits have been reaching and exceeding record levels lately as the International markets expand at double digit rates.

Hauling self loading freight has never been a way to make money. The passenger carriers make money by putting freight in their bellies. You sell a ticket for $99 for a 180lb person. You know how many Next Day Air envelopes you can stuff into a container at roughly $19 a pop plus other smaller boxes?

You want career stability? Fly freight for UPS or FedEx.
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
[ QUOTE ]
You want career stability? Fly freight for UPS or FedEx.



[/ QUOTE ]

I've the teamsters at UPS to thank for getting layed-off in '97 from my airline cargo job.

Can't remember what their gripe was about back then.
 

A300Capt

Freight Dawg
Mike,

Sorry to hear that.

As you know first hand, there is always a trickle down effect whenever any union strikes. Innocent people lose their jobs whether it be temporary or permanent. UPS has some 350,000 employees worldwide and many outside contractors. A lot of people are effected when there's a work stoppage no matter how short lived. BTW, that was the first and only strike at UPS in its 96 year history. I don't think the other passenger carriers can match that record. How many are effected at the pax airlines when those unions strike every few years?

Bottom line is that UPS and FedEx are probably, without question, the most secure flying gigs out there. Who knows what the future holds though as it seems no one is completely immune.
 

Waples15

New Member
The air cargo industry is having very difficult times. There is simply too much capacity for the overnight cargo product. I was with BAX Global who owned ATI. BAX is what is known as an integrator in that they are a freight forwarder operating their own aircraft. Both BAX and their main competitor Menlo (formerly Emery) have not been able to make a profit flying overnight cargo. You may recall the maintenance nightmares Emery went through just prior to the FAA shutting down their company owned airline operation. Kitty Hawk is barely hanging on to existance. Another forwarder by the name of Eagle got out of the airplane business which is partly what nearly killed Kitty Hawk. UPS and FedEx are as stable as anyone out there but they are both reporting tough times too.

BAX also leases 727's from Capital and Kitty Hawk. I recall greeting the Capital crew one morning and they looked like hell. Their hours are pushed to the limit and the crews were very unhappy.

Don't even get me started about FineAir.

There are a lot of small companies out there that support the UPS's of the world too. Not to mention companies like Southern Air and such that have government contracts.

But if you're looking for stability in air cargo, don't. It just isn't there.
Dave
 

speedman

New Member
is it harder to get on with UPS or Fedex vs. the passenger airlines? I hear the cargo airlines hire lots of ex-military pilots. Is there a preference for military at the cargo airlines?
 

stuckingfk

Well-Known Member
I don't know much about the hiring, but a family friend of mine was recently hired by FedEx and he was ex-military. I think the reason that ex-military guys/gals get hired is because they meet the multi-turbine PIC requirements set forth by UPS or FedEx.
 

davetheflyer

New Member
[ QUOTE ]
A cargo airline like UPS or FedEx is a much more stable flying job than any passenger airline could ever hope to match.

[/ QUOTE ]

I agree with you, but there are several reasons that I prefer passenger flying to freight.

1. I get to make cool announcements that people ignore.
2. Flight Attendants!
3. Control of the seatbelt sign:
Seatbelts ON
Seatbelts OFF
Seatbelts ON
Seatbelts OFF
heeheehee
4. I'm not nocturnal.
5. No brown uniforms.

 

AA

New Member
A300Capt-Great post, I really liked it! But davetheflyer has to get props for the seatbelt sign, and of course the good looking flight attendents!
 

A300Capt

Freight Dawg
[ QUOTE ]
Control of the seatbelt sign:
Seatbelts ON
Seatbelts OFF
Seatbelts ON
Seatbelts OFF
heeheehee


[/ QUOTE ]

Believe it or not I also have one of those seat belt signs and switch for the jumpseaters. I'm not sure having flt attendants to deal with is a good thing anymore.


Having flown people in my past life and now freight in my current, I'll take the freight anyday!
 

DE727UPS

Well-Known Member
I don't think it's true that UPS hires more ex-military. I'm straight civillian and have always thought UPS did a great job of hiring from many different pilot backgrounds. The capt I flew with last week was ex-military but the F/E was straight civillian. The capt I'm flying with next was straight civillian and don't know about the F/E.
 
So where all is ups's and fed ex's operations? I know they got a major one in Louisville and Memphis but where else? Also, what does a normal trip or work week look like for a pilot at the cargos.
 

Prospective_Pilot

New Member
It seems like most cargo airlines operate retired passenger aircraft (like 727's, 747's, DC-8's, DC-10's) that are between twenty to thirty five years old. How much longer will all those aircraft be able to fly for? Until parts start falling off?!?!?! I read somewhere that passenger aircraft have a maximum age limit of 27 years to be in service for an airline...correct me if I read wrong. Do cargo aircraft have different age limits since they're not carrying paying passengers or something?
 

DE727UPS

Well-Known Member
UPS has secondary sorts at Ontario, CA, Rockford, IL, Philly, PA, Dallas, TX, and Columbia, SC. A typical trip domestic is a Sunday commercial out of Louisville to position for a Monday night flight and get done on Saturday night...then off the next week. You go on duty around 9pm, fly to the sort, sit around for 3 or 4 hours, and fly out of the sort. International keeps you away from home 12 to 14 days, usually long duty days with 24 hour layovers, all over the world. I'm senior in my seat, so I usually get some of the best trips and get pretty much my choice. Currently, I'm away from home about 10 days out of 28 and fly between Seattle and Vancouver, BC.
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
[ QUOTE ]
Mike,

Sorry to hear that.

As you know first hand, there is always a trickle down effect whenever any union strikes. Innocent people lose their jobs whether it be temporary or permanent. UPS has some 350,000 employees worldwide and many outside contractors. A lot of people are effected when there's a work stoppage no matter how short lived. BTW, that was the first and only strike at UPS in its 96 year history. I don't think the other passenger carriers can match that record. How many are effected at the pax airlines when those unions strike every few years?

Bottom line is that UPS and FedEx are probably, without question, the most secure flying gigs out there. Who knows what the future holds though as it seems no one is completely immune.

[/ QUOTE ]

I look back at it with interest; no problem now. But at the time, it did suck. And you're right, I do remember it being the first ever strike at UPS. Just wrong place/time on my part.

And I can't complain too much now.
 

Visceral

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
But davetheflyer has to get props for the seatbelt sign, and of course the good looking flight attendents!

[/ QUOTE ]

He only said flight attendants. There was no mention of them being attractive or not.
As for the announcements, I don't think they can hear you with those props buzzing. Now that CRJ...that is a quiet airplane.
 

Waples15

New Member
Those old airplanes will fly forever as long as you're willing to put the money into them. Airborne had a plan to operate their DC-8's for some 25 more years. They would tear them completely down and rebuild them. Sad to say but I think the DC-8's will outlast Airborne.

Where I came from, BAX Global, they were looking at 757's to replace the DC-8's and kicked around the idea of 767's and A-320's. With the exception of FedEx and to some degree UPS, the revenue in cargo doesn't justify the price tag of new aircraft.

Cargo crew in most cases that I've seen enjoy flight benefits with the commercial carriers.
Dave
 
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