The USA is proving a lucrative recruiting ground for China's aircrew-hungry airlines, with almost 100 pilots hired by 12 carriers at a recent job fair in two US cities, according to organisers.
The event - held over two days in Miami followed by a day in Las Vegas - was run by Chinese pilot leasing company WASINC and hosted by Miami-based Pan Am International Flight Academy. Organisers said 750 US captains - some with as much as 25 years' experience - attended.
Despite signing up almost 100 pilots, the organisers said another 100 positions still need to be filled.
"Between now and 2030 the Asia-Pacific area will need 180,000 pilots. China alone will need 70,000," said event co-ordinator Steve Turner of WASINC. "It's a real enticement to US pilots currently sitting at the bottom of the career ladder here to look overseas, where the pay is so much better."
According to WASINC, Asia is the fastest-growing aviation region in the world, with starting salaries for a three-year commitment working out at almost $200,000 a year. This compares with average pay for a captain with equivalent experience in the USA of $118,000.
WASINC said another event is planned for next year. Participating Chinese airlines included Air China, Skymark Airlines, Business Aviation Asia, Shenzhen Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Tianjin Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Xiamen Airlines, Chengdu Airlines, Spring Airlines, Okair, and West Air.
The organisers later released a statement saying that they were not targeting pilots working for a specific airline.