China Southern to plug pilots shortfall

China Southern Airlines will be the first
mainland airline to recruit 100 pilots who are willing to pay for their own flight
training. Chinese airlines normally cover all the costs of pilot training but China Southern
is aiming to train more pilots at their own expense to meet the crying demand,
according to Yu Renlu with Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).
The civil aviation sector is expected to have a shortfall in demand of almost 10,000
pilots by 2010, said Mr. Yu.
More than 90 percent of China’s pilots are trained by the Sichuan-based Civil
Aviation Flight University of China (CAFUC) under the supervision of the CAAC, which
recruits up to 1,000 pilots a year.
Pilot trainees have to study and train in the CAFUC for four years before they
graduate with a license and a bachelor’s degree.
Airlines spend almost a million yuan ($130,000 USD) to train each pilot, said Wang
Renjie, of China Southern.
Chinese pilots trained in this way are usually obligated to serve long-term
contracts with the same airline.
Mr. Yu said the country would urge the CAFUC to produce more pilots but at the same
time seek alternative training scenarios in order to provide more pilots to meet the
market demand.
The 100 pilot trainees under the China Southern program would study at the CAFUC for
two years, including 18 months of flight training to get a license, except for those
who failed the examinations.
Men aged 20 to 27 with at least a high-school diploma could sign up at the website
of China Southern for enrollment by the end of June, said Mr. Si Xianmin, President
of China Southern Airlines.
They are expected to pay about 652,000 yuan (84,675.3 U.S. dollars) each for the
training, and are allowed to work for other airlines when they fulfill the required
service for China Southern Airlines.   
Trainees could get bank loans to cover expenses with China Southern Airlines acting
as the warrantor, and they would be expected to repay the loans from their salaries
within 10 years.
China’s pilots can expect to earn around 2.9 million yuan over 10 years and the bank
loans along with the interest would be about 900,000 yuan.