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Aussie pilots can earn a fortune by moving to China

February 9, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Australian regional airline pilots can quadruple their salaries and earn twice as much as Australia’s prime minister – simply by moving to China, according to aviation analysts.

Chinese airlines are said to be poaching experienced Australian pilots by offering USD 600,000 (AUD 768,000) a year. That’s 51% more than Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull earns (AUD 507,338 a year) – but the Chinese salary is tax-free which gives it a greater edge.

Captain Murray Butt, president of the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA), which represents 2250 Qantas Group pilots, told The Australian newspaper that Chinese airlines were offering salaries for domestic pilots that outstripped anything Australia’s main carriers could offer.

The paper said “significant numbers” of Qantas pilots had taken leave without pay to fly for overseas carriers during a cost-cutting period at Qantas but were now returning, as demand for pilots soared.

The sky’s the limit

The paper quoted industry sources saying pilots could earn more flying B737s on Chinese domestic routes than flying Qantas’s new B787-9 Dreamliner.

Globally advertised jobs flying B737s on Chinese domestic routes offer salaries over AUD 400,000; roughly double the salary of a Jetstar or Tigerair B737 captain.

China will need another 110,000 pilots by 2035 and a worldwide demand for pilots would seem to indicate their future is paved with gold – though you never can tell.

MEANWHILE, airports in cities like Jakarta, Bangkok and Manila have been warned they must expand to survive.

IATA director general and chief executive Alexandre de Juniac, speaking in Geneva, said the Asia Pacific region needed to act swiftly to ease bottlenecks. He singled out Jakarta, Bangkok and Manila as being in desperate need of capacity improvements.

“At the other end of the spectrum, we have Seoul’s Incheon Airport. They recently added runway and terminal capacity without raising charges for airlines and passengers. And, Incheon has extended an airport charges discount introduced two years ago. This sets a very positive example for other airports to follow. It also demonstrates great understanding of the role aviation plays in linking the Korean economy to economic opportunities globally.

“The Singapore government is also showing great foresight with its expansion plans for Changi Airport, including Terminal 5 (T5).”

De Juniac said IATA members were frustrated with the current state of privatised airports.

“Our view is that the ownership is best left in public hands,” he said.

“All the optimism supporting strong aircraft orders will mean nothing if we don’t have the capability to manage traffic in the air and at airports.

“Ensuring sufficient and cost-efficient infrastructure in Asia-Pacific is a top priority. The region is centre stage of the industry’s overall growth. By 2036 we expect 7.8 billion people to travel (up from 4.3 billion expected in 2018). Of the 3.5 billion trips to, from or within the Asia-Pacific region in 2036, 1.5 billion will touch on China. As early as 2022 China will be the largest single aviation market. India is another emerging powerhouse – even if it will take longer to mature. And nearly equal potential could be realised as the Indian aviation market continues to develop.”

Written by Peter Needham

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