Pilot rostering has been a hot topic this year, even in national media, thanks to the Ryanair issues in September, and now to American Airlines which, thanks to a scheduling glitch, allowed all pilots to take holidays at the same time and has left thousands of flights during the busy holiday travel period without pilots assigned to them.
For the fortunate many, Christmas is a time spent at home surrounded by friends and families – but the travel industry never stops and as many spend holidays in the air, so must flight crews!
Do Short Haul European Airlines operate on Christmas Day?
Not all, but many airlines do operate on 25th December and all London airports remain open. Passenger numbers are generally lower and flying schedules are largely reduced, but as the world becomes ever better connected, the travel industry serves those who don’t necessarily celebrate the holiday.
In comparison, the days around Christmas tend to be extremely busy for all airlines. Many people are returning home or travelling away for the big day and although – as with many service professions - it can be rewarding, it will mean that many flight crew members cannot see their own family.
Short Haul Pilot Christmas Rosters
The key difference between short haul and long haul rosters around Christmas, is that if you do work on Christmas Day, a short-haul pilot is likely to spend at least some of the day at home, where as a long-haul pilot could be spending the day with their colleagues ‘down route’ – and if they’re lucky with the destination, by the pool.
We’ve taken three European Short Haul pilot roster, to see what Christmas could bring:
Some short haul pilots will be lucky enough to spend some if not all of Christmas Day at home, with it still counting as a day of work. This roster has three days of “Early Standby” and, although rules differ between airlines, a standby generally means that you must be contactable and within 1.5 hours of your operating or ‘home’ base. So if you live and are spending Christmas near your home operating base, you could still expect to spend some or all of your Christmas day at home if you aren’t called to work. However, you will have keep well clear of the mulled wine until that duty is over and watch any intake ahead of the duty on Boxing Day!
Our second pilot’s roster is slightly more favourable than the first. With the base late standby (BLS SBY) duties on both Christmas Eve and Boxing Day they must remain within 1.5 hours of their home base. However, on Christmas Day they only need to be contactable – which in other words means their phone must be switched on. They can be called to be told about a future duty change, but cannot be called out to fly that day.
3. Day off
Our final pilot has the best deal of all – although in the days leading up to Christmas Day they are working (flying on Milan – Tenerife and Milan – Lisbon rotations) a ‘Day off’ is what it says on the tin - Christmas Day and Boxing Day can be enjoyed to the full.
Flying around Christmas time can still feel festive - some airlines will have holiday themed operations, whether its novelty jumpers in the flight deck or a special Christmas dinner for your crew food.
To all those flying this festive season, we’re wishing you safe travels!
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