Pilots have had a complicated 2020. It’s a year that has turned out radically different than we expected. At a time when the sector was trending in growth, the expansion of Covid-19 grounded aircraft and put us on furlough. Since March, we at the Sepla pilots’ union have been working more than ever to help our colleagues manage, as best as possible, an unprecedented crisis that marks a before and after for aviation.
Right now, pilots are aware that we need to contribute to the survival of our airlines because without them there is no future for us.
Our first task as a union has been to carry out initiatives that help our colleagues mitigate the consequences of the crisis. First, we opted to pay our affiliates’ fees. Secondly, we focused on a fundamental concern in these times: pilots’ emotional health, developing PAPI (Pilot Support Programme). We also created a programme for expatriates, which advises all pilots returning to our country after years living abroad, or those who want to leave Spain in search of other countries where they can fly. Furthermore, we have negotiated special agreements with banks, insurance companies and even pilot schools to maintain the pilot certifications of the entire group in Spain.
Despite the difficulty to obtain furlough funds, and how the pandemic has considerably reduced pilots’ income, furloughs have been a lifesaver for airlines. During the first months, airline activity has been reduced to repatriation flights and transport of medical supplies. In this respect, the union has also stood up for members, handling their SEPE paperwork.
The most optimistic forecasts do not foresee re-establishing pre-crisis demand until nearly 2024. Recovery will be slow, but it is necessary to support aviation during these times to create a solid sector.
This is a key moment for our future. With the certainty that this will be long-lasting, it is time for union sections to work, just as they have done since March, contributing to the maintenance of employment. Short-term thinking is useless now: we must fight for survival. We must work, together with our airlines, to maintain all pilots’ jobs.
At Sepla, union sections such as Ryanair or Vueling have already reached agreements with their respective directors with the objective of reducing costs and preventing layoffs. Now, pilots are aware that we must contribute to the survival of our airlines, because without them there is no future for us. We can only overcome this unprecedented crisis if we join forces. And there is only one way to do that: TOGETHER.