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Paid Pilot Course Flooded by Applicants
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China Southern Airlines Co has received thousands of applications to join a pilot training course where the students pay 710,000 yuan (US$90,000) to be taught to fly.


The biggest Chinese airline in terms of its fleet received nearly 2,000 applications for 100 openings in the first 10 days, the Chengdu Shangbao, a newspaper in Southwest China's Chengdu City, reported today. All the candidates will have a health check in July. The company has promised to hire graduates from the project as its pilots.


Qualified students will attend an 18-month training course, including 250 hours in the air. The flight school will offer trainees a wide range of models, such as Cessna 172, Piper PA44 Seminole and Piper PA42 Cheyenne.


It was reported that each hour in the air will cost a student at least 3,000 yuan and may reach 10,000 yuan, which depends on the models they choose. This is the major part of the tuition, and each student need to pay about 652,000 yuan on it, the newspaper said.


Student loans are available and all the 710,000 yuan will be paid in three installments in accordance with the training process.


The head of Southern airline's flight management department said that tuition plus loan interest might be 900,000 yuan. However, a pilot can earn 2,900,000 yuan in 10 years.


Southern Airlines has become the first carrier on the Chinese mainland to ask some of its student pilots pay for their own tuition.


Normally, airlines cover all training and study costs for pilots. When a pilot wants to change a company, the former employers will often claim a large amount of compensation from the pilot.


Faced with a shortage of pilots and bothered by labor contract disputes with former pilots, many domestic airlines, including Southern Airlines, also plan to recruit more pilots from overseas.


(Shanghai Daily June 12, 2007)


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