The Cypriot pilot of the FlyDubai jet that crashed in southern Russia was going to quit the airline after recently accepting a job with Ryanair in Cyprus, a long-time friend said Saturday.
The friend told The Associated Press that pilot Aristos Socratous, whose wife will give birth to the couple's first child in a few weeks, wanted to raise his family in Cyprus despite a drop in his wages.
"The loss of income doesn't compare with being close to your family in your home country," the friend said.
The 38-year-old aviator was so looking forward to making a fresh start in Cyprus that he gave up his passion — his two motorcycles, which he used to drag race with, his friend said.
The friend, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he didn't want to be named discussing his friend's personal matters, said Socratous was an experienced pilot who had no complaints or problems with FlyDubai. He said Socratous was "very happy" about FlyDubai promoting him to full captain a year and a half ago.
FlyDubai CEO Ghaith al-Ghaith also called him an experienced pilot who had 5,965 hours of flying time.
Socratous, a graduate of the Oxford Aviation Training Center, had previously worked for Helios Airways, the Cypriot airline that shut down after one if its planes crashed in 2005. He had also worked for XL Airways and Malaysia Airlines.