May 7th, 2020

Be calm, be kind, be safe.

Mo Bro Alan Hay on life as a pilot and seeing the silver lining throughout COVID-19.

My name is Alan Hay. I’ve been happily married for 38 years with a daughter and son, now both in their 30s.  Besides being a pilot for 40 years (which I still enjoy!), I love staying active through hockey, golf, kayaking and hiking.  And of course, as you might suspect of a pilot, traveling the world is one of my passions, which unfortunately at this time is on hold!

COVID-19 has significantly changed my reality, both at home and at work.  Fortunately, I have a home to hang out at and a job to go to.  My kids have grown up and moved out so it’s just my wife and I in our ‘bubble.’  With my wife being as active as I, and with so many of our activities on hold, we’ve been staying in shape through regular home workouts, bike rides, walks and runs.  We have even managed to get out golfing a few times (which is a bonus!).  Aside from this, we try to set small goals each day geared towards a purpose.  Let’s put it this way, the ‘job jar list’ is getting smaller!  One thing for sure, this ‘stay at home’ world we live in has tested our relationship, and I’m happy to report is going well. Luckily, my wife and I have managed to stay connected to our family and friends virtually like many others, with the occasional outdoor visit - staying socially distant of course! To be honest, we’ve taken this time to connect with people we haven’t seen or heard from in a long time, which I encourage everyone to do.

“I will never take my job for granted again.”

I work for Jazz Aviation LP, a regional airline for Air Canada known as Air Canada Express.  In my 34 years with the company, I’ve seen some really bad things - 911, SARS and bankruptcy - but nothing like this pandemic.  Never did I imagine that wearing a mask at work would become a requirement.  Our company has cut over 90 per cent of its schedule from this time last year which has resulted in layoffs, reduced work hours and wage roll backs.  We went from a pilot shortage to a pilot surplus overnight!  As of May 1st, 675 pilots were laid off with the possibility of more to follow.  I’m very fortunate that I am in a senior role and still working.

I work with many pilots and flight attendants in their 20s - which is younger than my kids!  They have seen nothing but growth and prosperity in their short careers until this pandemic.  To my surprise, the few I’ve worked with recently who have found themselves laid off appear to be accepting this new reality and are making plans to adjust.   They seem to understand that it may take the airline industry years to recover and to quote one of my First Officers, “I will never take my job for granted again.”

The hardest thing for me and for many others is dealing with something we can’t control.  As frustrating as it is, I strongly encourage you to reach out to others if you’re having a bad day.  Mental health is so important during unprecedented times like this, so please take my advice.  To quote Dr. Bonnie Henry, ‘be calm, be kind, be safe.

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