With no money coming in, how can we keep flying without stopping money going out = more savings programs. Since getting back to anything like normal will take years, many airlines are cutting down work forces across the line, but there is one work force you can’t do without, no matter how hot you wish; crew. Cockpit and cabin. For cargo airlines just cockpit. (In the beginning there was a plane and a pilot.)
For airlines, the need to cut crew costs are soon the only savings possibility remaining. There are different ways. When union negotiations have come to the end of the road, you might be tempted to replace your pilots with non-union pilots = cheaper pilots. This might be good for company shareholders. Is it good for your customers?
Pilots are men and women. If there is a difference in skills and judgement it’s basically due to different amount of training, provided they were properly screened in the first place. Training is expensive. Training is so expensive that Boeings debacle with 737MAX was caused partly by the ambition to sell a new version without need for simulator training. For low-cost companies the need to not spend a penny more than absolutely necessary is a company strategy.
Pilots are a worldwide commodity and you get what you pay for. Better pay and better training go hand in hand. Many flag carriers have a sound base of extensively trained crews from way back when money was not so scarce. Budget airlines might in some cases pay fairly well to get experienced pilots, as quite a few are prepared to follow the money, but in general (with a few adventure oriented exceptions) pilots prefer well renown airlines with a reasonably stable economy (read salary) – and why not a union.
Bottom line regardless of all the above; if you get the pilots left over when everybody else has hired, you might be in trouble. So might your passengers be one day. Many of the latest fatal accidents with a couple of thousand casualties were avoidable, including Air France over the South Atlantic, Colgan Air in Buffalo, Asiana in SFO, PIA in Karachi, Air India Kozhikode, Atlas Air in Houston, AirAisa over the Java sea, Air Algerie over western Africa – and of course the two cases with the Boeing 737MAX.