It is hard to believe how things have changed in the last month. February 14th came and we received a record payout for profit sharing. No one seemed to noticed the storm on the horizon. Now, about a week away from April, I wonder if I will have a job beyond April 30th.
The coronavirus continues to spread and the world have freaked out. When it first was announced things were bad and international flights were being cancelled to/from certain countries; I was working the international fleets at the airline where I work. One day I saw planes busy with flights, the next, they were sitting on the ground more. More and more planes were flying less and less. Some planes were simply parked.
I started the following week on a domestic fleet and it wasn’t affected by flight reductions. Midweek I was moved back to international. The reduced schedule was noticeable. Some of the 767s with crew rest facilities; they mostly flew to Asia, were doing some domestic flights. Between news items comments from company leadership, every day seemed like things were much worse than I thought and I didn’t think it could get worse. It continually did.
Last week I worked Airbus 319/320s. This desk can be difficult on any regular day. This week was hell and each day got worse. It culminated on my Friday. We expected to see a lot of canceled flights. Yes, there were some but not as many as we expected. We also had less crew problems than expected. We were told cancellations were coming. It was like waiting for the enemy to attack a position we defended.
At some point of day the chief pilot on duty, a female that day, was talking to a coworker next to me about a pilot who was supposed to fly one of my flights. The pilot was being a jerk. She had tears as she spoke. I’ve heard this lady speak with pilots in the past and she is always very professional. I’ve never seen her rattled before. I respect her very much. Anyway, she was fighting the tears and I was fighting the urge to get up and hug her. Finally, I got up and stood next to her and said, “Do you want social distancing or could you use a hug?” She leaned her head on my shoulder and said thank you.
The cancellations finally were dropped on us around 1 PM. There were so many our system crashed. About 30 minutes it was running again. The preferred way to cancel flights is to cancel like this: cancel a flight from point A to B and back. Our cancellations were a hodgepodge. I heard the cancelled flights we the ones that had no pilots. Consequently, there were many planes that were, as we call it, out of balance. I’m not lying or exaggerating when you hear whet I’m about to say. I had one plane in Los Angeles and the next flight was due out of Raleigh, North Carolina. Another was in San Diego and owed out of Boston. We had to cancel many more flights in order to balance planes. Several hours later we were done.
In order to minimize exposure to the coronavirus, our night shift people work at out backup office. The phone rang and I hoped it was my relief calling from the other office. I literally said, “Please be Jon Davenport. Please be Jon Davenport.” Thank God it was.
Since then my sister in law and daughter in law have lost jobs as well as some nieces. Also, I have been exposed to someone who traveled with someone who tested positive for the virus last week. However they last were together 3 weeks ago so we feel things are ok.