U.S. Pilots, Seeking Better Pay, Look to Far East

 - February 28, 2012, 1:47 PM
Almost 100 U.S. pilots accepted jobs with Chinese airlines during a three-day job fair hosted by the Pan Am International Flight Academy.

A dozen Chinese airlines hired nearly 100 U.S. pilots at the Pan Am International Flight Academy’s All China Job Fair, held in Miami on February 23 and 24 and Las Vegas on February 26.

Over the course of the three-day event, 750 seasoned U.S. captains, some with as many as 25 years of experience, came to the fair hoping to land a job in Asia, whose airlines now pay a premium to attract skilled pilots to fill their crew quotas.

Despite the turnout, the airlines filled only half of the available positions.

“Between now and 2030 the Asia-Pacific area will need 180,000 pilots. China alone will need 70,000,” said event coordinator Steve Turner of Wasinc, China’s largest pilot leasing company. “It’s a real enticement to U.S. pilots currently sitting at the bottom of the career ladder here to look overseas where the pay is so much better.”

Asia now stands as the fastest growing region for aviation in the world. Starting salaries for a three-year commitment range between $16,000 and $18,000 per month, translating to just under $200,000 per year. Airline pilot pay in the U.S. averages $118,000.

Calling the recruiting fair “a rousing success,” Wasinc and host Pan Am International Flight Academy plan to hold another event next year. In the meantime Chinese airline representatives will take up shop here and continue their recruitment drive.

Participating Chinese airlines included Air China, Skymark Airlines, Business Aviation Asia, Shenzhen Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Tianjin Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Xiamen Airlines, Chengdu Airlines, Spring Airlines, Okair and West Air.



Mechanics soon to follow!!

What is failed to be mentioned is that none of these pilots have been "hired" yet. The hiring process differs greatly in China than from the United States. Chinese airlines don't hire a pilot and then train them to proficiency. These pilots have been granted an "assessment" where they will fly to China and complete a process that if successfully passed will lead to their employment. They must all pass the Chinese ATP written, an extensive medical that will eliminate many, and a two hour simulator checkride/assessment at many of the airlines. They must also not have any restrictions on their U.S ATP certificate like the "VMC - circling restriction" if applying for a job in an aircraft in which they hold a type rating.

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