14 August 2009
At Los Angeles Airport - LAX - around 100 airline employees are living in mobile homes parked next to a runway where jets land every few minutes. It's a sign of a harsh reality in an industry that once embodied glamour.
Click to hear the report:
Metres from one of the busiest runways in the world lies a cluster of trailers and motorhomes. Parking Lot B at Los Angeles Airport is home to around a hundred pilots, mechanics and baggage handlers. Faced with job cuts and lower wages, many must now go where the work is.
Dana Hayes: "Come on in." Rajesh Mirchandani: "Thanks a lot. So this is home?" Dana Hayes: "This is home."
Every week Dana Hayes, a mechanic in his fifties, leaves his wife at their large home a thousand miles away. His small trailer offers cheap living - just $60 a month. Renting a room nearby would be at least ten times that.
Dana Hayes: "It's tough sometimes. You know, it's... It's better than paying rent, you know. At least you can put a little money aside for retirement or something."
In recent years the US airline industry has shed thousands of jobs and lost billions of dollars. Fears of terrorist attacks, rising fuel costs and a deep recession have hit hard. Even at the pinnacle, some feel the squeeze. Airline captain Bob Poster is one of at least four pilots living in Lot B.
Bob Poster: "It's just... There's been a decline in... I think in our status, our pay, our benefits and it's just... I think it's world... the world economy, world economics, it's just... Everything is flattening out."
Airline jobs once brought respect and envy. Now many are just glad they are working.
Rajesh Mirchandani, BBC News, Los Angeles
Click to hear the vocabulary:
- a cluster
a group of things that are packed closely together
- offers cheap living
allows him to live on very little money, without spending a lot of money on accommodation
- put a little money aside
save some money
here, got rid of, cut
- hit hard
here, had a considerable negative impact
- at the pinnacle
here, the most important people in the industry
- the squeeze
here, the negative effects of the world's economic crisis
- flattening out
moving more slowly, slowing down
admiration and/or honour shown towards someone who is considered to be very good or important
a feeling that makes you unhappy because you desire something that somebody else has