In the past five years the number of airlines in China has increased 28% to 55 in the past five years and the fleet has more than tripled in a decade to 2,650 according to the Civil Aviation Industry Statistics Report by Civil Aviation Administration of China,
With the air traffic market in China expected to continue to boom, Chinese airlines are offering lucrative pay packages to lure expatriate pilots.
In a video conference, Bloomberg’s Angus Whitney described the offers from Chinese airlines as eye-watering packages with annual salary going up to US$320,000 and monthly pay cheque can go as high as US$80,000 including overtime payment, bonuses and contract completion payments.
Quoting a research by Boeing, Whitney said globally 600,000 new pilots in the next 20 years and China alone needs 100,000. “They got to find pilots from around the world because they are not producing enough on their own,” he said.
With such a high demand, Chinese airlines need to hire almost 100 pilots a week for the next 20 years to meet the demand.
Giacomo Palombo, a former United Airlines pilot told Bloomberg he is getting offers from regional carrier Qingdao Airlines to fly Airbus A320s with them for US$318,000 a year. Sichuan Airlines is pitching US$302,000 a year with both airlines pledging they will cover his income tax bill in China.
According to Whitney, the down side of flying Chinese airlines is that it takes a long time to deal with the bureaucracy involved in applying a job in China. Having to go through medical checks, immigration, assessments, interviews, it can take as long as two years from applying for a job to actually flying a plane.