According to industry sources, Chinese airline companies are trying to recruit experienced South Korean co-pilots these days with an annual salary of as high as 250 million won (US$217,300), which exceeds the average annual salary of South Korean captains by a margin of approximately 100 million won (US$86,900).
Under the circumstances, more than 100 captains and co-pilots have left Asiana Airlines since 2013 and the number amounted to 45 in 2015 alone. In the case of Korean Air, the number skyrocketed from 16 to 121 between 2014 and last year and 68% of the captains who have left Korean Air during the period went to Chinese airlines.
With respect to this issue, Bloomberg recently reported that Chinese airlines are attracting foreign captains and co-pilots with a large salary due to the lack of Chinese aviators amid a rapid increase in the number of Chinese tourists. It added that Qingdao Airlines, Sichuan Airlines and the like reached out to former United Airlines Captains with an annual salary of approximately 350 million won and zero income tax. This amount is about four times the average annual pay of Brazilian and Russian pilots in command and about 100 million won (US$86,900) more than that of those working for Delta Air Lines.
According to Airbus Group, China’s air traffic is estimated to show an increase of 400% or so for 20 years to come. During the past five years, the number of Chinese airlines increased by 55% and the number of their passenger planes has topped 2,650. Boeing recently said that the Asia-Pacific region is likely to be in need of 248,000 extra passenger plane pilots until 2035.