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Brazilian Pilot Takes Pivotal Shenzhen Airlines Role

Armindo Souza Viriatode Freitas used to be a pilot for Brazil’s Varig Airlines, but today he holds the crucial position of Assistant Manager in Shenzhen Airlines’ Aviation Department, says the Shenzhen Economic Daily.


In April 2003, China’s civil aviation industry was in the midst of a SARS-inspired downturn. To help overcome this, Shenzhen Airlines, which has always maintained high profits, decided to advertise for pilots in Brazil, where there is an excess of experienced pilots. Forty-seven-year-old Freitas was one of the successful candidates to respond.


During 18 months training and aviation Freitas diligently displayed his rich aviation experience, leading to his promotion to Assistant Manager in September.


The move quickly became a hot topic of conversation amongst Shenzhen Airlines’ staff and even Freitas was surprised by it. The airline’s management said his promotion was just the beginning; they will be employing other foreign high-level administrators in a trial to help meet international standards and improve their overall performance.


Freitas became the first foreign pilot to enter China’s civil aviation management and his harmonious working relationships with Chinese colleagues clearly add to his suitability for the role.


He is now in charge of training foreign pilots, and one of his main tasks is to ensure they work according to Shenzhen Airlines’ requirements and have everything they need to do so. He said: “I will do my best to help everyone here, what I should do is to make a contribution to Shenzhen Airlines with my aviation experience.”


Him, his wife and 8 year-old son have become used to life in Shenzhen and have been greatly impressed by the city in the last 18 months. Freitas likes Chinese food very much, particularly hot pickled vegetables!


“Becoming Assistant Manager is the most successful experience of my life, I will make painstaking efforts for Shenzhen Airlines; Brazil is my motherland, but Shenzhen is my second hometown”, said Freitas.


Of the 17 active pilots from major Brazilian carriers employed by Shenzhen Airlines, ten were captains and seven assistant pilots. All of them will be working on routes between Shenzhen and Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan and Nanjing.


According to Shenzhen Economic Daily, the Brazilian aviation market has been depressed because of poor domestic economic conditions and has offered a good development opportunity for rapidly growing Chinese airlines. After Shenzhen Airlines advertised in Brazil’s local media, a surprisingly large number of well-trained and experienced captains applied.


Shenzhen Airlines began to employ foreign pilots in May 2003. Today, Shenzhen Airlines has some 40 from, among others, the United States, Italy, Russia, Norway, Bulgaria, Australia, Georgia and Singapore. The company said that employing them can not only improve their colleagues’ English but also overall staff skills through technical exchange between foreign and Chinese pilots.


Shenzhen Airlines only has one-fiftieth of China’s domestic civil aviation plane stock, yet their profit is one-fifth of the total, and in the last two years they produced more than 20% annual capital returns.


Their aim is to be fully geared up to meet international standards and employing foreign pilots is an important part of achieving this. Today, Shenzhen Airlines provides English training for staff, with English language skills becoming a requirement for promotion and, in two years’ time, a basic requirement of employment.


(China.org.cn by Wang Sining October 21, 2004)

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