Right time for an aviation career to take off

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 April, 2006, 12:00am

TO COPE WITH rapidly increasing tourist numbers, Macau plans to double its airport capacity in the next few years. This move, along with the establishment of new airlines and additional services, will create hundreds of jobs in the city's aviation sector, which is estimated to grow 8 per cent annually until 2010.

The main expansion project will let Macau International Airport handle 12 million passengers a year and should take about three years to complete.

Meanwhile, two local budget carriers are preparing to start operations. Viva Macau is scheduled to begin flights in June, while Macau Asia Express should take to the skies in the fourth quarter. Both are benefiting from the more open operating environment which has existed since Air Macau lost its monopoly last year.

'We plan to launch our first flights with three twin-aisle aircraft, like the Boeing 767,' said Viva Macau human resources director Katie Ng.

The company's long-term aim is to add three aircraft a year and serve regional destinations as well as India, the Middle East and Europe.

'We will need between 100 and 150 recruits to serve our customers and are inviting applications for flight attendants and senior cabin crew,' Ms Ng said, adding that the key requirements for candidates were a commitment to customer care and being confident, creative and proactive.

It was also important to be professional, safety conscious and a team player.

Applicants must be fluent in English and a second Asian language, ideally Cantonese or Putonghua. They should also be at least 1.58 metres tall, have good eyesight and know how to swim.

The company has already started the interview and selection process but will continue to accept applications.

'We prefer candidates who have prior experience in the airline or service and hospitality industries,' Ms Ng said. 'If they have more than five years' flying experience with other airlines, we will consider them for senior flight attendant positions.'

She said the company was very satisfied with the response so far in Hong Kong and Macau, and it was particularly encouraging because many applicants had experience with major international airlines.

'We offer staff the usual benefits, plus health insurance and a performance-based share option scheme, so everyone can share in our success.' Ms Ng said.

'Of course, there is also the opportunity to see the world as part of the job and through special staff fares.'

Meanwhile, Air Macau plans to hire between 30 and 40 people and has new aircraft entering the service in June.

As the principal local carrier, the firm has 750 employees in Macau and another 230 based overseas. About 110 of them are based in Taiwan, which remains one of the carrier's key destinations.

'The company has been growing steadily,' said acting vice-president of general affairs Anabela da Rosa.

'Our biggest recruitment move this year will be related to the launch of an A300-600R in June,'

Pilots, aircraft maintenance engineers and flight attendants are needed, and anyone interested should apply as soon as possible.

The recruitment process is designed to be straightforward. It normally involves no more than two interviews for qualified applicants to get a job offer.

According to Ms da Rosa, relevant aircraft experience will be a big advantage for prospective maintenance engineers.

She said the company was confident of attracting high-calibre candidates, even though the competition for skilled workers was fierce in the local job market.

'There are new jobs everywhere and Macau's population is limited,' she said.

'Recruitment nowadays is all about fighting for the best people.'

Ms da Rosa said casinos might pay junior employees slightly more, but Air Macau offered excellent career opportunities.

'I believe many youngsters are not just looking for quick money,' she said.

As extra flights are introduced to more second-tier mainland cities, Macau's aviation industry has the potential to create many new jobs.

In fact, rights have been agreed on for direct air links to more than 30 mainland destinations but fewer than 10 cities are served by the airlines at present.

However, that may change soon. A venture formed by Air Macau, China National Aviation Corporation and Shun Tak Holdings is planning to operate flights to about 20 cities across the mainland.