World joins Chinese carriers’ cabin crews
Saturation of domestic market spawns global routes that attract foreign talents
Late November, about 50 Italian young men and women appeared for interviews in Rome for cabin crew jobs with China Eastern Airlines Corp Ltd. Only half of them will likely receive job offers. Yet, everyone was hoping for the best.
“China is the future,” said Veronica Goslino, a female applicant from Rome, who was selected in the first round.
The Italian flight attendants will work on the carrier’s Shanghai-Rome route after some training in early 2016.
It is the first time that China Eastern recruited in Italy, but recruitment of foreign crews is becoming common for Chinese airlines that operate international flights.
The practice began in late 1990s. Hiring then was still done in China. Now, due to huge demand for such staff, Chinese carriers are recruiting overseas.
For instance, China Eastern hired some of its crew members this year in Japan, South Korea, France, Germany and Italy. It plans to recruit in Australia and Spain in the future, said LiuKunqiang, head of the carrier’s publicity department.
“We expect to bring different faces to our flights through international recruitment,” saidWei Bo, deputy director of China Eastern’s security department, who handled the recruitment in Italy. customized contracts to their foreign cabin crews, as per the latter’s nationality and labor laws thereof, said Shang Zhao, manager of the in-flight service department of Hainan Airlines.
The carrier lays stress on punctuality and quality service, Shang said. “We need to find a balance to let them understand the company’s regulations and at the same time, we don’t interfere with their freedom.”
Foreign flight attendants’ compensation is higher than that of their Chinese colleagues as the former do not receive perks like local insurance and housing allowance, Shang said.
The carrier also has a special team to manage its foreign flight attendants.
The increasing recruitment of foreign flight attendants indicates Chinese airlines’ fast expansion into international markets.
Statistics from the Civil Aviation Administration of China showed that Chinese airlines added 84 new international routes in the first half of this year, up 35 percent year-onyear. The domestic air market is saturated, so the carriers are investing more in overseas markets.
The fast-developing highspeed train network in China also drove airlines to introduce longer routes and even intercontinental routes, said Li Xiaojin, a professor at the Civil Aviation University of China in Tianjin. “More market potential is on international routes for Chinese carriers.”
China’s growing outbound tourism has also encouraged Chinese airlines to offer international services. In fact, Chinese airlines overtook their United States rivals for the first time in the number of flights across Pacific this summer.
Chinese residents’ overseas visits will likely reach 120 million trips this year, up 16 percent year-on-year, according to the China Tourism Academy.
Since Chinese carriers alone cannot meet such demand, even foreign airlines are reaching out to Chinese travelers and exploring the secondtier market in China.
And, in a reversal of sorts, foreign airlines are hiring Chinese candidates as cabin crew to serve the increasing number of Chinese fliers among their patrons.
For instance, out of 2,500 Chinese applicants, British Airways Plc hired 65 of them in China as cabin crew on Dec 1. They will work on British Airways’ cabin crew bases in Beijing and Shanghai, which were opened two months ago.
They will undergo eightweek training in London and subsequently work on the carrier’s Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu routes with the London-based cabin crews from June 2016.
“We are looking for applicants who have a passion for delivering excellent service, who will understand and anticipate the needs of our Chinese customers,” said Jacques Hijlkema, head of in-flight customer experience at British Airways.
He said the standard of the Chinese candidates was very high. All theBAflights fromChina will have at least two Chinese crewonboard in future.
BA operates daily flights from Beijing and Shanghai, and five flights a week from Chengdu, to London.
More market potential is on international routes for Chinese carriers.”
Flight attendants of different nationalities with China Southern Airlines pose for a group photo in front of the Sydney Opera House, a famous landmark in Australia.