China Southern Airlines announced Tuesday it would be the first mainland airline to recruit 100 pilots who were willing to pay for their own training.
Chinese airlines normally cover all the costs of pilot training, but China Southern was aiming to train more pilots at their own expense to meet the crying demand, said Yu Renlu with Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).
The civil aviation sector was expected to have a shortfall in demand of almost 10,000 pilots by 2010, and the whole sector was restricted by a lack of skills, said Yu.
More than 90 percent of China's pilots are trained by the Sichuan-based Civil Aviation Flight University of China (CAFUC) under the supervision of the CAAC, which recruits up to 1,000 pilots a year.
Pilot trainees have to study and train in the CAFUC for four years before they graduate with a license and a bachelor's degree.
Airlines spend almost a million yuan (US$129,870) to train each pilot, said Wang Renjie, of China Southern.
Chinese pilots trained in this way are usually obligated to serve long-term contracts with the same airline.
Increasing numbers of lawsuits, however, have been reported between pilots and airlines when pilots choose to leave the company for foreign or privately owned airlines that offer higher salaries.
Yu said the country would urge the CAFUC to produce more pilots, but at the same time seek alternative training schemes in order to provide more pilots to meet the market demand.
The 100 pilot trainees under the China Southern program would study at the CAFUC for two years, including 18 months of flight training, to get a license, except for those who failed the examinations.
Men aged 20 to 27 with at least a high-school diploma could sign up at the website of China Southern for enrollment by the end of June, said Si Xianmin, general manager of China Southern.
They are expected to pay about 652,000 yuan (US$84,675.3) each for the training, and are allowed to work for other airlines when they fulfill the required service for Southern Airlines.
Trainees could get bank loans to cover expenses with Southern Airlines acting as the warrantor, and they would be expected to repay the loans from their salaries within 10 years.
China's pilots can expect to earn around 2.9 million yuan over ten years, and the bank loans along with the interest would be about 900,000 yuan.
(Xinhua News Agency May 30, 2007)