Keeping your resilience during the time of crisis
© Martin / Adobe Stock
© Martin / Adobe Stock
The unthinkable has happened. COVID-19 gutted the travel and tourism industry worldwide. All European airlines – no exception to that – rushed to preserve their cashflow and cut cost. Pilots are now grounded, forced to take unpaid leave, furloughed and some have just been fired.
How can you, as a pilot, cope with this setback?
There is no fixed answer, however by sharing my own story I hope to keep the spirits up.
At the end of 2006, I got a job flying the 747-400 as a cruise relief pilot. The airline was the first long-haul low cost airline, that was planning to expand their network of routes, their fleet and their workforce. Not only did they pay for the type rating, but also had good contract terms. Needless to say, I was over the moon.
Not realising how serious this was, I believed that I should be able to find another flying job in no time
As a 747-400 as a cruise relief pilot
However, it was not even 2 years later – in 2008 – when the airline ceased its operation due to the economic downturn. Not realising how serious this was, I believed that I should be able to find another flying job in no time. I had gained a little more experience on a ‘’relevant’’ aircraft type after all. After months of looking for flying jobs, I realised that I probably would not be flying anytime soon, so I decided to not to sit at home waiting for a flying job.
In 2008 the airline ceased its operation due to the economic downturn
In fact, most of us who decided to become pilot have done their research and know that the aviation industry can be very volatile – and that therefore we need to have a plan B. When I lost my job in 2008, I activated my “plan B"
In fact, most of us who decided to become pilot have done their research and know that the aviation industry can be very volatile – and that therefore we need to have a plan B. When I lost my job in 2008, I activated my “plan B”: take up other jobs and keep searching.
For the first few months, I took up a job as a Project Manager in the City of London for a medical clinic whilst continuing to look for a flight crew position. This not only provided me with some very valuable skills, but also kept me positive and busy.
Finally, a year later my search was successful with a job offer (flying a corporate jet) in Morocco including a type rating that was paid for by the company. How did I do this? I scoured every website and applied to every possible flying job (even some where I didn’t meet the requirements) but I still took the chance and also followed-up every application with calls and emails.
A year later my search was successful with a job offer (flying a corporate jet) in Morocco including a type rating that was paid for by the company
This COVID-19 pandemic is worse than the 2008 economic crisis and the recovery might be slower, no one knows... However, when it does start to recover, you should be mentally prepared and be flexible.
You may not get your dream job straightaway, but whatever flying job you end up with, make sure to get the maximum out of it. My job in Morocco was definitely not a dream job, but I saw an opportunity to expand my working experience. I got myself involved in Compliance and Safety management for the company, was able to network, and learned the French language. All of this has helped me to secure further interviews, jobs and gain more knowledge.
Another point I want to highlight is that we should get rid of the notion that every successful pilot has to be an airline pilot. Flying is diverse and you may just find your calling in flight instructing, corporate or calibration flying and that is OK. Not every pilot is, wants or is set to become an airline pilot!
The COVID-19 crisis as a test for our motivation, resilience & perseverance
Motivation, resilience, perseverance and attitude are some of the skills that we slowly build upon when we start our training, by going through exams, selections, interviews etc. But it is in times like these when we are really tested upon them.
Maintaining a positive attitude and working through when facing a setback can be very challenging. The opportunity to transform something negative into a positive is what will set you apart!
Eventually when you attend your next job interview, you will be able to tell how you dealt with the setback. That was a question I was happy to have a good answer for!
About the author:
Rachna Sharma Reiter is an A320 pilot based in Berlin. She writes the she-pilots.com blog trying to inspire young girls (and women) to take pursue a career in the STEM fields.
© Rachna Sharma Reiter
© Rachna Sharma Reiter