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Old 05-08-2006, 07:33 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Post US Pilots at Foreign Airlines

Here is a article that was in the WSJ on Friday:

Outbound Flight With Jobs Scarce, U.S. Pilots Sign On At Foreign Airlines
Global Travel Boom Yields Tempting Pay for Expats; Concerns About Safety
A Captain's New Life in Dubai

May 5, 2006

Nearly two years ago, at age 51, Brian Murray took early retirement from US Airways. The pilot was outraged by the airline's termination of his pension plan and worried about his future with a carrier sliding toward bankruptcy court for the second time.

But Capt. Murray's flying career was far from over. Today he lives in Dubai and flies wide-body Airbus A330s for fast-growing Emirates Airlines, winging to exotic destinations in Europe, Africa and Asia. He's home more than he ever was at US Airways, and his total compensation package -- including health care, housing allowance, retirement plan and vacation -- is superior. He says his wife and children enjoy living in the United Arab Emirates, and "from a professional standpoint, it couldn't be better."

In a new twist on global outsourcing, a flock of U.S. pilots is fleeing the depressed North American airline industry to work in far reaches of the world where aviation is booming. After the 2001 terrorist attacks stifled air travel and sent the U.S. industry into its deepest decline ever, more than 10,000 U.S. pilots were laid off, and many more took early retirement. Despite subsequent hiring by a few healthy carriers, including Southwest Airlines, thousands haven't been able to find new flying jobs at their old pay grades.

At the same time, the industry is expanding rapidly in China, India, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. As these regions have grown more affluent and loosened aviation restrictions, travel demand has soared. New airlines have started up, existing carriers are adding routes, and hundreds of new jets are on order.

So, like British and Australian pilots who long have plied their trade wherever they find work, more Yanks are taking their skills offshore. They are doing so despite trepidations about moving families, flying on short-term contracts, and sometimes giving up union rights to be called back to work by U.S. carriers according to seniority.

U.S. pilots are working as far afield as Bolivia, China, Qatar and Vietnam. Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways and Singapore Airlines are hiring more Americans, as are carriers in Taiwan and South Korea, and increasingly, in India.

The diaspora is one symptom of a growing global shortage of well-trained commercial pilots. Aerospace giant Boeing Co. estimates the global jet fleet will grow to more than 35,000 airplanes in 2024, from fewer than 17,000 in 2004. Boeing pegs demand for new pilots at nearly 18,000 a year through 2024. China alone will need more than 35,000 new pilots over 20 years, and the rest of Asia will need 56,500, the company estimates. Many countries are currently unable to train enough pilots at home.

The result: a global bazaar where experienced pilots go to the highest bidder. Norwegians and Venezuelans are flying in China, Egyptians and Russians in India, Jamaicans and Iranians for a Japanese carrier. Four out of five pilots at Qatar Airways are foreign. More than 70 Philippine Airlines pilots have quit since 2003 for better-paying jobs elsewhere. Etihad Airways, a new airline based in Abu Dhabi, says its No. 1 source of pilots is Malaysia. India's fleet of startup carriers was so plagued by pilot poaching that the government last year began requiring pilots to serve at least six months at one carrier before moving on.

G.R. Gopinath, managing director for Air Deccan, a two-year-old budget airline in India, says he has been recruiting a dozen pilots a month from overseas. "If Indian software engineers can work in the U.S., their pilots can come and work here," he says. "It's reverse body-shopping." Pilot job fairs in the U.S. have begun attracting recruiters for Chinese and Indian startups, according to Kit Darby, president of Air Inc., a placement firm.

The hiring frenzy has led to some safety concerns. English is the industry's world-wide language. Putting two pilots with different native languages in the same cockpit, where they might have to interact with an air-traffic controller whose native tongue is different still, can lead to problems, especially in emergencies, contends Dennis Dolan, a retired Delta Air Lines captain and president of the U.K.-based International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations, which represents pilot unions and associations in 95 countries.

The International Civil Aviation Organization, an agency of the United Nations, intends in 2008 to begin English-proficiency testing of pilots and air-traffic controllers who handle international flights. India proposed that measure after a 1996 accident in which the flight crew of a Kazakh Airways jet misunderstood an Indian controller's instructions, leading to a midair collision with a Saudi Arabian Airlines plane near New Delhi. India also cited the 1995 crash of an American Airlines jet near Cali, Colombia, in which miscommunication between a Colombian controller and a U.S. crew was a contributing factor.

Jim Burin, director of technical programs for the Alexandria, Va.-based Flight Safety Foundation, an international nonprofit group, points to another safety concern. "In some cultures, it's not the place of the second-in-command to question the first-in-command," he says. That could interfere with the co-pilot's role as a check on the captain, who commands the flight.

One pilot who moved from a U.S. airline to a national carrier in Southeast Asia says that informational updates on safety at his new employer arrive late or not at all, and that little attention is paid to punctuality or how many hours pilots work. "Training for the most part is far from the quality I was used to in the U.S.," says the 55-year-old captain, who asked not to be identified for fear of angering his employer. He adds that he likes the lifestyle and finds the job "relatively easy."

Capt. Murray, who flies out of Dubai, says safety standards are high at Emirates, and its 1,350 pilots from 70 nations speak fluent English. He says pilots are "treated with respect in this part of the world. We're driven to work. We're put in four- and five-star hotels, on the concierge floors. Captains are treated as vice presidents of the organization."

Some out-of-work U.S. pilots balk at going overseas for family reasons. Some hope to be recalled by U.S. carriers and don't want to give up their seniority rights. Duane Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, a U.S. union, says foreign carriers are interested in senior pilots, not junior ones. He worries about the "brain drain" and whether foreign carriers are using U.S. pilots only temporarily until they can staff up with their own citizens. But "our guys are warming up to it," he says. "This one looks like a permanent structural shift."

Andrew Baedke, who was furloughed by Northwest Airlines after Sept. 11, has worked for the past three years as a Honolulu-based 747 first officer, or co-pilot, for Jalways, a subsidiary of Japan Airlines. "A lot of my [laid-off] friends are sitting at home or working for Home Depot," says Mr. Baedke, who is 36 years old. "I'm glad to have this job. It's extremely stable."

One reason for the pilot shortage is that developing nations aren't training enough of them at home. There are not enough flight schools in the world to meet demand, says Brent Mills, the chief executive officer of Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology, a flight academy in Tulsa, Okla., that plans to open schools in India with a local partner in the next year. It takes many years for a college graduate to accumulate sufficient flight training and commercial flying hours to climb the professional ladder from novice to first officer to captain.

Some nations, such as Japan and Ethiopia, have raised the mandatory retirement age for commercial pilots to alleviate the shortage. ICAO, the U.N. agency, will recommend later this year that the age be raised to 65 from 60, although member nations will not be required to do so.

The Chinese government runs a school in Sichuan province that graduated 307 novice pilots last year. China Southern Airlines, the nation's largest carrier by fleet size, has its own school in Australia. In 2004, four Chinese investors opened Beijing PanAm International Aviation Academy, which 240 students now attend.

Nevertheless, Gao Hongfeng, deputy director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, says there are almost enough native pilots to staff the new airplanes China has on order, but it will be difficult for the nation to train enough "mature captains" quickly.

Chinese airlines are filling in with expatriates. Tim Shattock, chief executive of Parc Aviation Ltd., a Dublin firm that leases pilots to airlines, says "our intelligence says there are 120 to 150 foreign pilots in mainland China."

India counts more. Deregulation has spawned startup airlines, an influx of international flights, and 20% annual passenger growth. India expects to need 2,500 new pilots by 2010. At Jet Airways, the nation's largest private carrier, 111 of its 685 pilots are foreign. Air Deccan has 75 foreigners among its 250 pilots, and is setting up its own flight school in Bangalore.

See Part 2
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Old 05-08-2006, 07:45 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Sorry for the length of this article their is a little more on page two.......
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Old 05-10-2006, 02:38 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nw320driver
Here is a article that was in the WSJ on Friday:
But Capt. Murray's flying career was far from over. Today he lives in Dubai and flies wide-body Airbus A330s for fast-growing Emirates Airlines, winging to exotic destinations in Europe, Africa and Asia. He's home more than he ever was at US Airways, and his total compensation package -- including health care, housing allowance, retirement plan and vacation -- is superior. He says his wife and children enjoy living in the United Arab Emirates, and "from a professional standpoint, it couldn't be better."
See Part 2
Sounds too good to be true. The only words of that paragraph that even remotely hold true at my job in Southeast Asia is the part about flying a widebody airplane and also a few exotic destinations. And I'm not comparing my job in Asia to a US major airline, I'm comparing it to the regional airline that I flew for. Be careful where you go.
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Old 05-11-2006, 06:34 AM   #4 (permalink)
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greenDOG;

Could you shed any more light on how it is working where you are now (for someone who may end up moving to Seoul, Korea)?

I'm starting at the tip of the airline hiring iceberg, the above water part I'm somewhat familiar with (call it US airlines), the underwater part is the rest of the world, and I have no real idea what's there and how it all works.

I'm sincere about wanting to know what its like out there...


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Old 05-11-2006, 02:48 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoothride
greenDOG;

Could you shed any more light on how it is working where you are now (for someone who may end up moving to Seoul, Korea)?

I'm starting at the tip of the airline hiring iceberg, the above water part I'm somewhat familiar with (call it US airlines), the underwater part is the rest of the world, and I have no real idea what's there and how it all works.

I'm sincere about wanting to know what its like out there...


R/Matt

There is no way to answer your question with any accuracy. Much like corporate jobs in the States, no two foreign airlines are the same. Some are good and some are bad.

GreenDOG is working for an airline that 5 of my friends went to work for in 1996/7. Within two years all of them were either fired or quit. I've since warned people about EVA on many forums. It's not one of the better places to work. That said, it is a decent stepping stone for better things. There are quite a few guys at my current airline who finished their four year contract at EVA and have now moved on. If you treat it for what it is, a stepping stone, and then move on it makes working there a bit more palatable.

TP
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Old 05-12-2006, 06:04 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I was very optimistic and open minded when I started work here. At best, it could have been a place to retire. At worst, it could be a stepping stone. As things turn out, I have a stepping a stone... covered with sharp spikes.

All airlines are different and I'm not sure that describing what my conditions are like would be helpful information for you when checking into Seoul. One thing that I recommend for you to check out is the expatriate pilot turnover rate. If guys don't stay around for more than a year or two, find out why. Also, ask what training is like. See if everyone has stories about pilots they know getting fired or quitting before they even finish training.
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Old 05-18-2006, 12:26 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Stepping stone with sharp spikes!

Roger that Green Dog;

Thanks for the input, I'll keep your advice in mind when looking around.

I've heard that Korean Air doesn't hire American first officers, only
captains....

I'm looking into Cathay Pacific next, I've heard good things.


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Old 05-18-2006, 06:48 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I think people have forgot to mention that most of these arlines with an exception of few such as Cathay and Emirates, require you to have some experience around 500 hours in the planes you will be flying. I was looking at the Singapore website and it said that you need 500 hour of 747/a340 and typerating experience to qualify. I was thinking to myself if I already was flying the 747/a340 why would I look for a job there?
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Old 05-18-2006, 10:16 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AirWillie
I was thinking to myself if I already was flying the 747/a340 why would I look for a job there?
The most conmmon answers are... money... benefits... and quality of life. However only you woulj have the answers to your question if you were flying the 747/A340. If you are happy where you are... stay. If not... then look elsewhere.
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Old 05-18-2006, 11:51 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Can you actually fly pax at these airlines or do they actually send the new pilots to cargo divisions? Like Cathay,Singapore,Eva seems like it. greenDOG can you fly pax or are these contracts just for cargo flying?
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