Arrive at Hong Kong's impressive modern airport and you get a sense not only of the city-territory's status as one of the world's great crossing points, but of China's immense potential as an aviation market. Among the well-heeled financiers flying to Frankfurt and backpackers en route to Bali will be thousands of Hong Kong residents and Chinese citizens taking a trip on an airliner for the first time.
The former British colony may be one of the true global cities, but it is also a gateway to the world's most dynamic economy, China. Thanks to its proximity to and status as a special administrative region of the People's Republic, Hong Kong is an even more important metropolis today than in its heyday as an imperial trade hub.
Blessed with liberal laws, stunning scenery and a dynamic, cosmopolitan culture - a mix of colonial heritage, Chinese enterprise and a work-hard, play-hard ethos - Hong Kong is a nerve centre of the new China and a great place to live and work.
| Bright lights, big city: Hong Kong stands at the entrance to China's booming economy|
For many decades, Hong Kong aviation has been dominated by Cathay Pacific. The privately-owned carrier is one of the world's blue chip airlines, its livery a familiar sight at international airports the world over. During the colonial era, Hong Kong's emergence as an Asian centre of trade, banking and manufacturing saw Cathay grow and prosper.
Since the handover of Hong Kong in 1997, however, the Chinese economy has gone into overdrive. While nearby cities such as Shanghai and Zhuhai have themselves become manufacturing and trading powerhouses, Hong Kong has benefited from its neighbour's success. Cathay may today face competition from Chinese airlines opening their own direct routes to the West, but it has also prospered on the back of the opening up of the massive mainland market and the millions of Chinese who want to see the world.
Across the region, fleets are set to grow rapidly and with it demand for flightcrew, cabin crew, maintenance engineers and managers. While China is trying to fast-track as many citizens as it can into the industry, it also needs seasoned professionals from abroad to fill cockpit seats and other roles, in the medium term at least.
This is particularly the case in Hong Kong, where Cathay and other airlines have long drawn from the expatriate community. But in mainland China too - just as in other regions where aviation is expanding, such as the Gulf - operators have been scouring the world's mature aviation markets for willing recruits. On offer: a lifestyle as well as a living.
Flying for a living is - by its very nature - a very mobile profession. Pilots have for decades moved larged distances in search of employment. However, today the opportunities for relocation are perhaps greater than ever.
The growing appetite of the Chinese for taking to the air - whether it is a shop worker enjoying a foreign holiday for the first time or the Beijing billionaire buying his first business jet - is turning Hong Kong and greater China into a major destination for pilots and other aviation professionals seeking a new challenge and a change of scene.
Hong Kong jobs on Flightglobal's Jobs page