Airlines want recruitment ban on pilots from island province to be lifted and employment laws on poaching eased

Chinese start-up airlines that are grappling an acute shortage of pilots are appealing to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) to lift its ban on poaching flightcrew from local airlines. A separate lobbying effort is under way to allow Chinese airlines to employ Taiwanese pilots.

Jade Cargo International general manager Rudolf Tewes and Great Wall Airlines senior vice-president commercial Foo Sootin say their respective airlines employ foreign pilots only because the CAAC has told them not to poach local pilots due to a national shortage.

But Tewes says his airline had started processing job applications from Chinese pilots when the CAAC informed it of the recruitment ban. Jade Cargo is now appealing to the CAAC to let it employ the 10-20 Chinese pilots who had applied, says Tewes.

Jade cargo  
© Jade Cargo 

Jade has been told by the CAAC not to poach local pilots

Jade and Great Wall are both 49% foreign-owned, but start-ups that are 100% Chinese-owned have also had difficulties recruiting local pilots. Shenzhen domestic cargo carrier East Pacific Airlines plans to launch in September and has been trying to hire pilots in China. Chief executive Zhou Yunda says the courts are making it hard for pilots to leave state-owned airlines.

East Pacific will ask the CAAC to help resolve this issue, says Zhou, who claims there are more than 100 pilots in China who have tried to leave state-owned carriers and then had problems with courts.

Flight International spoke to two pilots in China who have stopped flying for state-controlled Xiamen Airlines, but are prevented from joining another carrier because their case has to be heard in a Fuzhou court. The pilots claim the airline will not allow them to leave and appears to want them to serve until retirement age, which is 60.

Taiwan has no pilot shortage as the domestic aviation market is expected to shrink when a high-speed railway opens in October.

Industry sources in China and Taiwan say the two sides are trying to reach an agreement that will allow Taiwanese pilots to work in mainland China, which considers Taiwan a renegade province.

Sichuan Airlines in south-west China employs eight Taiwanese pilots, but this was a one-off deal reached last year, and industry sources say Taiwanese pilots are still prevented from working in China.

Source: Flight International