Shenzhen Airlines set up its foreign pilots department Thursday, the first department of its kind in China.
The department caters to the airline's 22 existing foreign pilots and the 42 Brazilian pilots it hired in June.
Yang Yuanyuan, director general of the General Administration of Civil Aviation, attended the department's inauguration ceremony and encouraged Shenzhen Airlines to become a model in training and hiring foreign pilots in China.
Brazilian pilot Lotario Kieling was appointed manager of the foreign pilots department, while another Brazilian Umberto Dalpian and a Chinese pilot were appointed vice managers. Li Kun, president of Shenzhen Airlines, presented them letters of appointment at the ceremony.
Shenzhen Airlines started employing foreign pilots in 2002. A total of 22 foreign pilots, most of whom are from Brazil, are currently flying Shenzhen Airlines jetliners. In June, the airline hired 42 pilots from Brazil.
Most of the recently recruited foreign pilots are from Varig, Brazil's largest airline company, which is on the brink of bankruptcy, the Beijing News said earlier. All the foreign pilots passed strict flight tests before coming to China. They are looking forward to their first flight after training, practice and another round of strict exams.
These foreign pilots will mainly fly domestic flights, according to Shenzhen Airlines.
The establishment of a foreign pilot association is to solve the cultural and management problems foreign pilots face in China, according to the airlines.
China's aviation industry is seeing fast growth. Industry experts have warned of a shortage of pilots as China needs up to 1,600 new pilots every year, based on the delivery of new aircraft.
Shenzhen Airlines plans to purchase eight new aircraft in the second half of the year and recruit more pilots.
(Shenzhen Daily August 18, 2006)