So, is it time to brush up on your Mandarin? Maybe. With an increase in private airlines and market liberalization (by Chinese standards) over the last few years, China’s Civil Aviation Administration says the airlines are looking abroad to find experienced flight crews to address the need for more pilots. It might be worth it to explore airline jobs in China.
With a half-dozen or so flight schools producing roughly 1,200 pilots per year, it’s estimated that the Chinese airlines, both commercial and private, will need upwards of 2,500 pilots annually to close the gap. With salaries for some captains starting at around $100,000, plus allowances and bonuses, the job offers have lured pilots—especially those flying for regional airlines, where they typically make far less than that—from the U.S., South America, South Korea, Singapore and Australia. According to Huaxun Aviation Services Company Ltd., in captain positions with some of China’s larger airlines, salaries can go as high as $200,000 to $300,000, inclusive of bonuses and allowances. Some contracts extend out to five years, as well.
Today, upwards of 1,000 foreign pilots are working in China, and the need for experienced PICs looks only to grow with China’s aviation demands. Chengdu Airlines, for example, recently has reported employing some foreign pilots on 3-year contracts with provisions for extension; the airline operates fleets of Airbus A320s and A319s. Or you could fly a B737 with Okay Airlines on a 3- to 5-year contract. And, they’re just a few of the dozens of potential employers looking to hire experienced pilots.