China's pilot shortage problem

China wants your pilots and it's willing to pay.
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor

China doesn't have a problem drawing passengers. But it's having trouble getting them where they need to go.

China's domestic passenger growth rate is one of the highest in the world, at around 14 percent in June, but, along with its flight delay problem, Chinese airlines are struggling to find pilots. And they're looking for foreign help, Wall Street Journal reports:

While China is training more local crews, pilots still need roughly a decade of experience before they can be promoted to captain. The air-travel boom has outpaced that maturation. Today, nearly all Chinese airlines employ foreign crews. Americans represent the largest proportion.

Chinese carriers started hiring foreign pilots in 2003. They now account for roughly 6% of the commercial-pilot workforce, with 1,778 foreign-pilot licenses issued as of last year, according to China's aviation regulator.

That's not good news for the U.S. airline industry which is facing a pilot crisis of its own. Especially, as WSJ reports, with Chinese airlines willing to pay salaries as high as $270,000 per year to lure pilots from the U.S. The average salary for a captain of an aircraft in the U.S.? $135,000.

Read more: Wall Street Journal

Photo: Flickr/dcmaster

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