Hong Kong aviation

Hong Kong Airlines launches pilot training programme

Carrier hopes to take on as many as 15 new trainee pilots this year as the airline expands its fleet of aircraft

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 June, 2017, 7:45pm
UPDATED : Friday, 09 June, 2017, 11:25pm

A lack of available qualified pilots has pushed Hong Kong Airlines to launch its own cadet pilot programme, in an effort to fill vacancies for its expanding fleet of aircraft.

With the mainland-owned airline expecting to increase its fleet size to 50 by the end of 2019 from 33 at present, it is partnering with a flight academy to begin training eight to 15 candidates this year.

Candidates will go through a 70-week training course, 15 weeks longer than its bigger rival Cathay Pacific Airways’ existing training programme.

The programme allows people with no flight experience to apply, and it costs Hong Kong Airlines about HK$1 million for each candidate.

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“This is going to support career establishment of a new generation in Hong Kong,” Hong Kong Airlines vice-chairman Tang King-shing said at a three-day job expo which drew 4,000 job seekers on Friday. Tang retired in 2011 as the city’s police commissioner.

The training centre, which is located in New Zealand, is run by L3 Commercial Training Solutions.

Vice-president and principal of the training centre, Anthony Petteford, believed the location was better suited for potential pilots based in Hong Kong compared to Cathay Pacific’s flight training centre which is located in Adelaide in Australia.

“New Zealand weather is different from the weather in Adelaide, which means they actually get to fly in real weather, real clouds, get to experience all seasons, which means they will have skills in flying in real conditions,” he said.

Applications are open from Friday to the end of July. Applicants are required to fork out a non-refundable application fee of HK$3,000.

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Tang said the fee was “reasonable”, as successful applicants will not need to pay for their training.

Job seeker Vincent Lam Kai-yat, 29, started out as a flight attendant three years ago, but quit his job last year to achieve his dream of becoming a commercial pilot.

He already got his private pilot license, but found it difficult to be accepted into commercial flying. Lam said the cadet programme was his best chance at fulfilling his goal.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong Airlines was also looking to fill vacancies of about 230 jobs at the expo for various positions.

With Cathay Pacific laying-off 600 staff by June 22, Tang said Hong Kong Airlines was not specifically targeting those who lost their jobs recently, but “welcomed everybody to apply” to fill the vacancies.

Additional reporting by Tracy Zhang