Airline pilots actually don't do much flying anymore. In some cases the plane can go from rotate on takeoff to final landing approach without the pilot doing more than turning dials on the navigation system and autopilot. There's a video on YouTube of the first flight if an Airbus super jumbo flying into SFO (sorry, San Francisco International). It's very cool to watch as he has the plane fly into the traffic pattern, do all the legs just turning dials until you see the runway out the front instead of the bay. He takes the controls at 200 feet.... and wouldn't you know it... he bangs the runway.. That big beauty of a beast actually bounced lol
In many ways this kind of flying makes us safer. But then again the pilot of Asiana flight 214 chose an "inappropriate autopilot mode", wasn't paying attention, didn't figure out what was happening until they were under 100, didn't take the plane back over in time and crashed short of that same runway with part of the plane actually hitting the bulkhead seawall where the land comes out of the bay. It us utterly amazing, and I hate to say it this way, but only 3 people died. 131 injured with a dozen or so admitted as critical. NTSB said it was caused by an "Over-reliance on automation and lack of systems understanding by the pilots".
I strongly believe this lack of hours actually flying the airplane reduces the muscle memory skills a pilot needs.
I ride motorcycle ever since I was less than sixteen. (I'm 64) But I can't ride for months at a time because of cold weather ice and snow. When I start riding again each spring I'm very aware of my body needing hours of starting, shifting, downshifting, braking, leaning, turning and looking to restart the pathways between my brain and my body before it can do the coordinated dance with rhythm and timing to do it well, without thinking about it.
Landing an airplane is much like that. Landing requires the pilot to make the airplane and extension of themselves. In a sense, the pilot needs to feel like he is what is flying, not the airplane. The yoke, rudders and throttles are the things he moves to make him move where he knows he needs to be to land. And those things are interrelated in ways that aren't intuitive and have to be learned. An example would be being a little low on final approach. Intuition says raise the nose and you'll go up, when in fact going slow with flaps down if you just raise the nose you will go down. In landing movements of the yoke to raise or lower the nose have to be connected to your hand on the throttle to increase or decrease power. Your muscle memory and feel in the seat of your pants has to integrate pitch and power. Need altitude in final approach? Lift the nose AND apply power. If you don't apply more power the nose will be right where you want it but a look at instruments will show you to be descending and faster than you were and your airspeed went down too. You'll end up short.... and bang the runway. (or worse yet, you could stall the airframe and spin) Too high on final? Lower the nose, but your muscle memory has to automatically tell your other hand to reduce power. If not you'll gain too much airspeed to be able to flare.. and without the flare... you'll bang the runway.
Plus all landings have to be made from scratch. Flying is easy, landing is hard. The airplane will feel different depending on the number of passengers, weight of the luggage and cargo and remaining fuel load AND that fluid being flown in, the air, will be different every time. Altitude, temperature, humidity, headwinds, wind reversals, crosswinds, gusting winds, rains, how heavy the rains, snow. All of those things have to be felt in the balance mechanisms in your ears and the way you have to learn to interact with the instruments, and then the brain has to send signals to the muscles with very little conscious thought.
It is true today's pilots do a usually several landings a day. But in my opinion if that's basically the only flying you do you won't have a proper feel for the airplane and no part of flying requires proper feel than landing, so you bang the runway.
In December I flew on MD-80's. The first ones came into service 34 years ago. The last one was built 15 years ago. Hard landings are hard on everything in the airplane but I think the biggest stress airlines put them under is how hard today's pilots stop them. Hard brakes, high throttle reverse thrusters, the planes shutter hard. And every time I still see very long stretches of unused runway when they turn off. They aren't doing because they need to or because it's the safest way to land because hard braking with reverse thrusters on an airliner has it's own risks. Like your car, the harder you brake the harder it is to keep it moving in a straight line. But it's worse, Imagine your car had one wheel under the radiator and the rest were under the seats. While it’s an exaggeration, imagine putting a heavy wide load moving well over a hundred miles per hour centered it on a skateboard and using the skateboard wheels for braking and steering. I don't see any safety advantage to using just over half a runway. And from a passage seat it feels like it is hard on the airplane. Keep in mind the MD 80's these pilots were doing these shaking hard stops on weigh on landing somewhere between 80 and 100 thousand pounds. Slamming one to a stop has to be hard on something more than brake pads rotors and tires.
The most likely reason is to reduce the time it takes to the terminal. But a couple of these 2 hour flights where ten minutes or more early. To continually make what feels damn near like panic stops on an aging fleet of airplanes is a bad idea safety wise. Any lapses of inspections on these old airplanes could result in anything from sections of the fuselage coming off too hydraulic failures to electrical gremlins ranging from bad data to fires. A lot of airlines are using some very old airplanes to do 2 to about 4 hour routes, which means takeoffs, cabin compression, cabin depressurization, landings and stops several times a day.