This is one of the most comprehensive views on the current state of the airlines in the United States. Read the article in its entirety. I'm living it along with some of my best friends and it's getting rather ugly.
The nation's big airlines want you to know that there's a dreadful pilot shortage and they apologize profusely if their commuter-carrier partners cancel flights to your hometown airport due to the debilitating shortfall.
The nation's big airlines don't want you to know that their commuter carriers, which operate half of all the nation's commercial flights, often pay pilots so little that it's often financially wiser to drive a truck or flip fast-food burgers than fly a plane.
A first-year co-pilot at a commuter airline may earn as little as $19 per flying hour. After five years with a commuter airline, the average salary is just $40 an hour. For the lowest-paid pilots at a carrier such as Mesa Air Group, which operates flights for both United and US Airways, a 60-hour work week means an effective pay rate of just $8.50 an hour. That's barely above the national minimum wage of $7.25 an hour and below the more than 10 bucks President Barack Obama is making federal contractors pay their workers.
At American Airlines, senior management that came from US Airways to run AA netted $79 million in stock sales during the last month. At the same time, however, American pressed for another concessionary contract at American Eagle, its wholly owned commuter airline.