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Old 02-04-2006, 08:24 PM
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A lot of people who never work for Cathay will believe that Cathay Salary & Benefits is ****. What people often forget is the fact that you pay 70% less tax in Hong Kong when compare to working in Canada or the USA. Also, a lot of the old timer at US major will compare their salary with Grade B (current) salary level at Cathay. Which isn't really a good comparison, especially at this time when all the US carrier are cutting back. The salary at US carriers is actually a lot worst then Cathay. Just to give you a rough idea on Cathay Grade B Basic Salary not including housing allowance and outport allowance (HKD7.78 = USD1):

Second Officer (Annual Salary):
Year 1: HKD386,556 (USD49,685)
Year 2: HKD432,960 (USD55,650)
Year 3: HKD484,920 (USD62,329)
Year 4: HKD543,108 (USD69,808)
(Usually you will be an SO for about 3 years)

Junior First Officer (Annual Salary):
Year 1: HKD593,052 (USD76,227)
Year 2: HKD664,224 (USD85,375)
(You will be a JFO for 1 year or a little bit over a year only)

First Officer (Annual Salary):
Year 1: HKD771,180 (USD99,123)
Year 2: HKD784,116 (USD100,786)
Year 3: HKD797,316 (USD102,482)
Year 4: HKD810,780 (USD104,213)
(You will be an FO for about 3 years)

Senior First Officer / Relief Commander (Annual Salary):
Year 1: HKD838,248 (USD107,743)
Year 2: HKD859,668 (USD110,497)
Year 3: HKD881,736 (USD113,333)
Year 4: HKD904,452 (USD116,253)
Year 5: HKD927,864 (USD119,262)
Year 6: HKD951,972 (USD122,361)
(You will be an SFO for 3 to 4 years but that will all depend on your ability to pass your command upgrade which lately tends to have a few failure)

Captain (Annual Salary):
Year 1: HKD1,180,500 (USD151,735)
Year 2: HKD1,201,620 (USD154,449)

Senior Captain (Annual Salary):
Year 1: HKD1,223,136 (USD157,215)
Year 2: HKD1,245,096 (USD160,657)
Year 3: HKD1,267,488 (USD162,916)
Year 4: HKD1,290,336 (USD165,852)
Year 5: HKD1,313,628 (USD168,846)
Year 6: HKD1,337,400 (USD171,902)
Year 7: HKD1,361,640 (USD175,017)
Year 8: HKD1,386,360 (USD178,195)
and on and on until Year 17: HKD1,632,384 (USD209,817)

And that is just the basic salary, you will also get housing allowance which is up to a maximum of HKD360,000 per year (USD46,272) for second officer (I know, you get almost as much housing as your salary as an second officer but CX need to do that in order to get people to work in Hong Kong as housing is very expensive here. The actual amount of allowance also depends on the lease or mortage that you are planning to take. If you decided to take the form of cash, Cathay will give you about 70% of the maximum amount in cash towards your salary but you will have to worry about signing your own lease, etc. The same goes to FO and Captain), HKD540,000 (USD69,408) for FO and HKD780,000 (USD100,257) for Captain. Also you will get a decent amount of outport allowance which is usually more then enough for your spending when you are overnighting at an outport. CX will contribute an amount equal to 15.5% of your salary to your retirement funds which is pretty good compare to many company. Your contribution is optional, you can contribute anywhere from 5, 10 to 15%.

Also tax in Hong Kong is relatively low, expect to pay about 15 to 20% depending on your salaries toward tax. It is your responsibility to pay your own tax.

So let's do a quick comparison for an entry level pilot, if you are working as a new first officer at any US major, you are probably looking at USD60,000 per year. At discounter like southwest or Jet Blue, that figures is only about USD45,000 (all info taken from USA Today). So when you compare a second officer at Cathay you will be making about USD49,685 per year so minus tax in Hong Kong which is much lower (15%), you will get about USD42,232. Then add-on 70% of your housing allowance (I am assuming that you will take the cash options but I don't recommand it because this way you will have to end getting less money) which works out to be about USD32,390. So your actual salary is actually USD74,622. So when you compare this to any US major, they simply can't match the salary. At any major US airlines, you will get paid USD60,000 but you will only get about USD40,000 to USD45,000 after tax (roughly about 25% tax). So in effect you will get paid about USD30,000 more at Cathay as an new pilot.

So let's have a look at an experience pilot down the road when you eventually becomes a captain. At Cathay, Year 1 Captain will get paid USD151,735. Again, if you factor in the tax difference (about 20% tax in Hong Kong at this level of salary). You will get about USD121,388 plus housing allowance. Again if you take cash, so you get about 70%, which works out to be an addition of USD70,180. So in total, you will be making about USD194,602 as an Year 1 Captain at Cathay. So how about US carries? You will be looking at making about USD200,000 at the US major. At Southwest and Jet Blue, you will make around USD120,000 to USD150,000. When you deduct tax at major US carries with USD200,000 salary (roughly about 40% tax), you will probably pocket about USD120,000.

So which airline is better to work for? Cathay or US major? That will all depends on your lifestyle choice. In terms of money, Cathay will be better. I know a lot of people who is very senior at US major airlines will disagree with my figure. But you can't compare Cathay Grade B to the old US major salary. Do an apple to apple comparison, use Cathay Grade A to compare to the old US major salary. You will still notice that Cathay will paid just as well if you are an old timer. In the current enviroment, I am much happier to work for Cathay who is making money then working for any US major with whom I might get layoff any day. This is just my opinion. Everyone will look at this differently so it is better to make your own decision on this matter.