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Why pilots are unwilling to move to China?

Published: 2014-01-24

AviationCVDespite the concentrated efforts on making expatriation easier and more convenient, the number of failing assignments abroad has not changed significantly over the years. Based on numerous studies, China is the third country according to the number of incoming expatriates who report critical difficulties and fail to complete their assignments.   Moreover, the number of pilots even considering the possibility of working for Chinese carriers does not seem to grow at a pace needed to fill in the increasing number of open positions.  AviationCV.com has decided to approach industry representatives and discuss the main issues behind the pilots’ reluctance to accept Chinese carriers’ tempting offers.  

“Everyone knows that many Chinese airlines offer USD 200,000+ salaries to foreign pilots, captains in particular. But due to bureaucratic and cultural specifics they maintain very strict screening procedures and requirements. First and foremost, this concerns the nationality of potential expat pilots,” comments Skaiste Knyzaite, the CEO of AviationCV.com.

Though not widely publicized Chinese carriers maintain a strict policy regarding countries which foreign specialists come from. China’s ‘black list’ is divided into two parts. The first one includes nationalities that are literally banned from entering China`s aviation job market. The employment of pilots from such countries as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and a set of other mainly Asian and African countries, is not negotiable. The two main reasons behind such a strict policy applied to the aforementioned states are related to high level of poverty as well as terrorist activity rate.   The second “black list” includes the nationals of Greece, Israel, Egypt, the Philippines and other countries with visible economic and/or political issues which allegedly concern the official Beijing (and thus the national aviation market). Specialists from the list might gain airlines’ approval, but the negotiations and the screening process will take extra time and resources. 

“The application process is also a bit more complicated and time consuming than the one in the Western countries.  Chinese airlines require candidates to indicate such personal information as religious views, weight or height. Moreover, the medical check might be the toughest part of the entire screening process in China. The candidate is required to go all the way to China for medical checks which may sometimes take from four to six days. However, all travel and accommodation related expenditures are usually being covered by an airline,” shares one of AviationCV.com pilots. 

Skaiste Knyzaite CEO of AviationCV.comAccording to Skaiste Knyzaite, the general requirements for expat pilots in China include at least 4,000 total flight hours and a minimum of 500 hours as a pilot-in-command on a commercial aircraft. “Despite the fact that many Western pilots have the required level of experience, some of them are still reluctant to move to China. Apart from cultural and geographical distance issues, certain pilots are unwilling to sign 3-4 years’ long contracts, which are being offered by many Asian carriers,” added the CEO of AviationCV.com.  

Even though China`s economy continues to grow at an impressive rate, strict political environment, legal peculiarities and cultural issues are amongst the main barriers which discourage foreigners to accept a job offer from a Chinese carrier. However, many European pilots indicate that major Chinese airlines are shifting their HR-policies to a more employee-friendly policy, providing more assistance to potential expats in managing legal, financial and travel issues related to the move. 

“Alongside their development, smaller Chinese carriers are entering a tougher competition with major airlines, both Chinese and international. This further toughens the already tense competition for experienced pilots. At the same time, Western airlines are also getting back on their feet and reviving their expansion ambitions thus supporting the increase in specialist demand back in Europe and North America. We believe that such market trends will eventually have a positive impact on the assessment process in China. In the meantime, pilots shouldn’t deprive themselves from career opportunities in such a promising region. Such agencies as AviationCV.com maintains a long history of well-established communication with both Chinese carriers and expats which helps to ensure that the pilot assessment procedures run as smoothly as possible,” concluded Skaiste Knyzaite.