02 October 2005

Stocks & Rants

With the close of the markets this past friday, it's marks the end of the third quarter. Continental's (CAL) closed at $9.66 a share. This means our employee stock purchase plan this quarter will not allow us to buy shares. At last years annual shareholder meeting, they approved a new stock purchase plane for employees, that has a condition that we can't buy shares through it, if the price of the stock is below $10 on the opening or closing business day of the quarter. That means sometime this business week, the company will refund those monies that employees who are enrolled in the plan, contributed through out the quarter. We can still buy shares if we have a regular brokerage account with any brokerage firm.

While surfing around I found a blog titled Detrick On The Rocks written by a captian who flies international routes for Northwest Airlines. In this entry he lambasts upper management at Northwest. While his overall attitude regarding upper management strikes a resonating chord with me, I imagine that many people in the flying public are sympathetic to management. The general trend I've noticed on most aviation forums seems to entail the attitude "hey, a job at lower pay is better than no job."

I really don't understand that attitude. Maybe it's people who have never worked in the airline industry, or maybe people who hold entry level jobs at some Dollar General store, who would love an oppurtunity to hire on with an airline at half the wages that airlines pay now and far fewer benefits. Which the way things are going in this industry they might have that oppurtunity before long.

I think the general flying public, those people who may fly once every couple years, have the idea in their head, that to pilot an aircraft, to run a succesful operation, is as easy as catching their local mass transit bus. It's not. Pilots, maintenance & ramp workers all have duties that ensure each aircraft makes it to it's final destination. Maintenance workers make sure that aircraft is in safe working order. Ramp agents load those bags and freight in the cargo bins to carefuly prepared load reports, so that aircraft is balanced while in flight. I remember a story a few years ago of a cargo flight, where the ramp agents didn't load it correctly, and the freight shifted in the cargo bins which caused the center of gravity for the aircraft to shift. The aircraft ended up crashing and killing everyone on board. And the pilots...while much of actually the actual flying is automatic these days, anyone who recently watched the jetBlue debacle in Los Angeles the other week, knows that you need skilled pilots who can handle such a situation to get that plane safely on the ground.

It's definately not the same as driving a bus for Greyhound or your local transit system. I'm thinking one day we're going to have to have such a serious airliner incident where the FAA can trace it's route cause to lousy pilots or mechanics or ramp workers, who hired on for Wal-Mart wages before the public realizes that the cheapest thing out there, isnt' exactly the best thing.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I left with the IAM strike in 1983 Continental (up to a few years before that) had truly been a pround bird with the Golden Tail. I know that they started cutting back on routine maintenance checks, outsourcing rework items to lower paid sources, and in general reducing their operating expenses. I can't blame a Company for doing that. I do NOT, however, believe that cheaper is better.

One slip by one person can make a huge difference.

02 February, 2006 05:34  
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05 March, 2012 12:49  

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