Foreign airline pilots

Job market changed

In my post on the Binzhou Flying College I mentioned China is employing many foreign airline pilots. The job market for pilots is changing and is suffering the impact of the debacle with the Boeing 737 MAX. Chinese carriers account for 20% of global fleet of grounded planes and have largely stopped hiring foreign pilots for the 737. Appetite for captains of many Airbus models remains unabated.

Commercial pilots in China

The number of Chinese licensed commercial pilots was 61,492 at the end of 2018. That’s up 54% from 2014 levels, but it’s still not enough. According to Boeing, China will need 8,090 new airplanes over the next 20 years. To fly them all, China will require another 124,000 pilots, Boeing says. That’s the equivalent of 119 new hires every week for two decades.
As a result by the end of 2016, Chinese carriers had more than 1,000 foreign airline pilots, double the number in 2010.

Good salaries

Chinese airlines that are still hiring are getting more picky to select foreign airline pilots, simulator tests are pretty strict. Chinese airlines still pay above-market wages,  paying multiple times the median salary of a commercial pilot in the United States.
It’s still possible for overseas pilots to head home with US$1 million in the bank after five years of flying in China.

Juneyao Airlines in Shanghai is offering US$299,000 a year to A320 captains aged between 30 and 53. The role demands an average of just 14 hours’ flying a week and includes 50 days of paid leave and an overseas employment allowance of US$666 a month. The pay climbs to US$311,000 – after tax – a year in the second term.

China United Airlines, a unit of China Eastern is offering US$288,000 a year to 737 captains on three-year contracts. But that’s the site’s first ad for 737 pilots in China since July. The package includes a monthly education allowance of $1,000 for children in Chinese schools.

The future

Schools as the one in Binzhou have an uphill task to satisfy demand, in view of China’s booming aviation market.



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