Pi­lot-air­port short­age could be an air pocket

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By ZHU WENQIAN zhuwen­qian@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China faces a short­age of pi­lots and exclusive air­ports for busi­ness jets. Ex­perts said the in­dus­try needs to re­spond to the sit­u­a­tion soon as the busi­ness avi­a­tion seg­ment con­tin­ues to grow. The gap has al­ready in­creased pres­sure on the growth of the seg­ment.

Cur­rently, China has around 300 busi­ness jets. This seg­ment of the avi­a­tion mar­ket needs at least 1,200 pi­lots, if ev­ery jet is equipped with two pairs of pi­lots.

Last year, China saw 28 per­cent growth in in­di­vid­u­als look­ing to buy or re­place their busi­ness jets. This would mean the de­mand for busi­ness jet pi­lots and cabin crew will grow, ac­cord­ing to Honey­well Aerospace.

By the end of 2015, China had 1,225 pi­lots with li­censes to fly small air­craft for com­mer­cial trans­porta­tion, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est pi­lot re­port by the Civil Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion of China.

Com­pared with com­mer­cial air­line pi­lots, busi­ness jet pi­lots re­quire more abil­i­ties and need to per­form more tasks. For ex­am­ple, busi­ness jet pi­lots need to com­mu­ni­cate in­di­vid­u­ally with the pas­sen­gers, in ad­di­tion to do­ing some ground work af­ter land­ing.

Chi­nese busi­ness jet op­er­a­tors usu­ally of­fer high salaries to at­tract cap­tains, but it is not easy to draw staff from large com­mer­cial air­lines, as many pi­lots pre­fer to stay on for ca­reer pro­gres­sion, sta­bil­ity and job se­cu­rity.

With con­firmed routes and sched­uled time at com­mer­cial air­lines, pi­lots can ac­cu­mu­late more fly­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. In com­par­i­son, busi­ness jets fly less fre­quently and their sched­ules could change at short no­tice.

Be­sides, only a few ma­jor Chi­nese busi­ness jet op­er­a­tors such as Deer Jet are able to train busi­ness jet pi­lots. Train­ing costs are very high. So, some do­mes­tic op­er­a­tors have to hire pi­lots from abroad.

In­dus­try ex­perts sug­gest

The costs of us­ing busi­ness jets in China are also among the highest world­wide ... ” Liao Xue­feng, chair­man and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of China Busi­ness Avi­a­tion Group

that do­mes­tic op­er­a­tors and fly­ing schools should fur­ther im­prove their train­ing sys­tems and mech­a­nisms for busi­ness jet pi­lots.

Liao Xue­feng, chair­man and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of China Busi­ness Avi­a­tion Group, said: “China’s busi­ness jet sec­tor needs to hire a large num­ber of for­eign pi­lots, and the costs are two times higher than hir­ing do­mes­tic pi­lots, as the op­er­a­tors need to take care of pi­lots’ fam­ily re­lo­ca­tion is­sues.

“The costs of us­ing busi­ness jets in China are also among the highest world­wide, about 50 per­cent higher than the United States’. This is part of the prob­lems that arose dur­ing the growth of the sec­tor. But the busi­ness avi­a­tion seg­ment still shows a very promis­ing de­vel­op­ment mo­men­tum.”

That mo­men­tum needs to over­come in­fra­struc­ture short­age though. In China, busi­ness jets now share the same air­ports with com­mer­cial air­lines. Some air­ports have dif­fi­culty in ar­rang­ing park­ing lots for busi­ness jets.

In ad­di­tion, it takes about one to three days for busi­ness jets to ap­ply for fly­ing rights. The process is more com­plex than in other coun­tries such as the US and those in South­east Asia. This has also in­flated costs in China.

It is pro­jected that by the end of the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) pe­riod, China will

have 500 new air­ports, and more than 5,000 gen­eral avi­a­tion air­craft will be in op­er­a­tion. The gen­eral avi­a­tion in­dus­try’s worth will ex­ceed 1 tril­lion yuan ($1.4 bil­lion), ac­cord­ing to the Civil Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion of China.

“It’s very pos­i­tive that there are spe­cific poli­cies aimed at the sec­tor. I think it will have a very pos­i­tive im­pact, and will en­cour­age more new peo­ple join the sec­tor,” said Andy Gill, se­nior di­rec­tor of busi­ness and avi­a­tion in Asia Pa­cific at Honey­well Aerospace.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.