Airline Pilots: Truly Global Commodity

WSJ writes in todays edition

The result: a global bazaar where experienced pilots go to the highest bidder. Norwegians and Venezuelans are flying in China, Egyptians and Russians in India, Jamaicans and Iranians for a Japanese carrier. Four out of five pilots at Qatar Airways are foreign. More than 70 Philippine Airlines pilots have quit since 2003 for better-paying jobs elsewhere.

Etihad Airways, a new airline based in Abu Dhabi, says its No. 1 source of pilots is Malaysia. India’s fleet of startup carriers was so plagued by pilot poaching that the government last year began requiring pilots to serve at least six months at one carrier before moving on.

G.R. Gopinath, managing director for Air Deccan, a two-year-old budget airline in India, says he has been recruiting a dozen pilots a month from overseas. “If Indian software engineers can work in the U.S., their pilots can come and work here,” he says. “It’s reverse body-shopping.” Pilot job fairs in the U.S. have begun attracting recruiters for Chinese and Indian startups, according to Kit Darby, president of Air Inc., a placement firm.

……….India’s Air Deccan is offering $8,000 to $15,000 a month to foreign captains, according to Mr. Gopinath, the managing director. A captain in the U.S. on Northwest’s smallest jet earns about $9,000 a month, while a captain on United Airlines’s largest plane earns about $15,000, according to a recent survey by Air Inc…….

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