P2F or 'Pay To Fly' is a phrase used to describe the aviation industry's dirtiest little secret. That whereby which new pilot recruits (co-pilots) pay an airline in order to fly their passenger loaded, profit making aircraft. Sums of $30k to $50k are routinely exchanged in an industry full of so many jobless young pilots that the airline cannot resist in the face of such a supply vs. demand situation.
P2F is the product of an obscene lack of regulation within the pilot recruitment industry whereby any Nicholas, David or Angela who has the money can fly a 200+ passenger aircraft for a short while whilst building valuable flying time. Often jokingly referred to as a "training" contract, it in reality relieves the airline of the headache associated with permanently employing experienced pilots. Pilots who might otherwise have a genuine need to be paid a salary or be based close to family.
Dave: “Hi Nicholas buddy, long time no speak!”
Nick: “Hello friend, I'm not bad. Got fucked off with the whole job thing after trying for 4 years so just enrolled onto a P2F course”
Dave: “Going well?”
Nick: “Nah, all I know is I paid a bunch of rich captains my money and here I am flying 5 hours per week earning shit-all”
Dave: “You mean to say that a bunch of Captains (are) Taking (your) Cash whilst shafting you?”
Nick: “Yes Dave, there are 20 of us and we each fly 5 hours per week!”
Dave: "Why couldnt they take on 10 of you allowing you to fly more? How are you paying your debt whilst earning nothing for a period 3 times as long as you planned for?"
Nick: "I don't know Dave but it's stressing me out, can't think of anything else when I'm coming home to land"