I thought this was the norm, getting paid by the hour that is.......... So a pilot earning potentially 60-70 dollars per a hour might only see an annual pay check of say 40-50K per year due to the number of flight hours they accumulate. Is this correct?
What percentage of companies do a set pay then? I'm assuming mostly privatised companies would go with this approach since the bigger airlines are all about cutting costs and sheding pilot hours.
Many US airlines pay by the hour, but it's credit hour not block hour. On top of this, there is a guaranteed minimum number of hours that will be paid.
Block hours - amount of time the airplane is away from the gate. The clock starts at brake release with the door closed, and ends with brake set and door open.
Credit hours - block hours and various 'credits' based on the length of the duty, minimum daily pay, etc.
At my airline, we get a minimum pay of 75 hours a month. No one makes less than that unless the voluntarily drop an assignment. We also get paid no less than 3.9 hours each day that we work. So if I only block 2 hours for the day, I still get credited (paid) 3.9 hours for the day. This forces the company to use the pilots. I don't put my uniform on for less than 3.9 hours of pay, and the company doesn't want to pay me if I'm not flying, so I rarely fly less than 3.9 hours each day that I work. We also have duty day credits. We get paid 1 minute for each 2 minutes we work, up to 12 hours. After that it's 1 minute of pay for each 1 minute we work. If this credit is higher than the number of hours worked, we get this credit pay for the day instead (it's not on top of the block hours/min day). This credit keep the company from having us do 1 quick leg in the morning, sit all day, and then do 1 quick leg at the end of the day.
The number of hours paid is multiplied by the employee's hourly rate, and that's what he gets paid for the month. This is a regional airline. I'm a First Officer on 5th year pay, which is $42.88/hour. So at a minimum, I make 75 hours times $42.88 per hour, which equals $3216 per month ($38,592 per year)before taxes and benefits, and that doesn't include per diem pay. I can make a considerable amount more than that depending on schedule, though. Reserve pilots basically only make mimimum guarantee, while pilots with lines (set schedule for the month) can make up to about 40% more.
This is just at one airline, and is one example of contract pay. Every airline is different, but the majority of US airlines have similar pay structures.
Now if you excuse me, I'm going to wallow in depression for a little while now that I've spent time looking at what I make again.