China Airlines swept the cabin crew applicants with a travel boom

  • Flight attendant numbers decreased by 11% during the epidemic in China
  • A weak job market for college graduates makes the roles attractive
  • Aircraft prices can remain high despite a hiring spree from experts

BEIJING, April 11 (Reuters) – China’s airlines are mounting their biggest hiring campaigns in more than three years as the travel boom faces a flood of applicants for cabin crew roles as fresh college graduates turn to a relatively high-paying profession in a dismal job market. .

Unlike in Western countries, where cabin crew roles are relatively low profile and often don’t require a college degree, becoming a flight attendant in China usually requires a bachelor’s degree and passing a government-run English test is preferred.

During the epidemic, the total number of flight attendants in China decreased by about 11,000, or 11% down from the pre-pandemic level of 108,955 in 2019, according to data from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), due to decreasing flight status. rather than the widespread layoffs in the West.

Airlines including Xiamen Airlines, China Southern Airlines (600029.SS) and Spring Airlines (601021.SS) are now on a hiring spree as domestic travel recovers and plans to resume flights to popular international destinations.

They can choose from an overwhelming pool of applicants at a time when 11.58 million college graduates are poised to enter one of the nation’s worst job markets in decades. A bleak global economic outlook has dampened demand for exports and companies in sectors such as technology, education and real estate have cut headcount.

She told Reuters that Hainan Airlines (600221.SS), which plans to hire more than 1,000 flight attendants this year, has already received more than 20,000 applications.

The job fair held in Jinan in February attracted 900 candidates, and the company employed only 60 people, which means that the selection rate is about 6%.

China Southern, which plans to hire 3,000 cabin crew this year, said it already had more than seven times as many applicants by the end of December.

Industry experts said that before the pandemic, about 10% of cabin crew applications were usually successful.

“There have always been a large number of young girls and boys who want to do this job. The income is not bad, usually 10,000 ($1,454) to 20,000 yuan a month, which is fun, allowing you to travel around,” he said to me. Hanming, the independent expert on the Chinese aviation industry.

In 2021, only 6.1% of recent college graduates earned more than 10,000 yuan per month, the Global Times reported in February, citing educational consulting and research institute MyCOS.

Wang Xinbo, who applied for a flight attendant job at Hainan Airlines, said that the majority of his classmates continue to study for a master’s degree in the hope of getting better-paying jobs.

“Some of them are not interested in the work of flight attendants, unlike me,” he told Reuters. “And many of my colleagues have found a job, but they are not satisfied with the salary level.”

Exorbitant prices

Lee said that despite the increase in job seekers, airlines may find it difficult to immediately deploy new staff due to year-long ground training courses, which could slow their efforts to quickly boost capacity and keep airfares high.

He added, “The carriers have a very good outlook for 2024, so they need to hire crew members now, otherwise they will be short on hands next year.”

China’s domestic capacity has topped 2019 levels since mid-March, but international flights have recovered to just 30% of pre-pandemic levels, according to data from flight-tracking app Flight Master.

With the summer high season approaching, China Airlines is adding international capacity. For example, Air China (601111.SS) said it would return to pre-pandemic routes including Beijing-Rome, Beijing-Ho Chi Minh City and Chengdu-London.

But for now, limited capacity has driven up prices.

Businessman Jin Huo said, “I paid 18,000 yuan for a round-trip economy ticket to fly from Frankfurt to Beijing. I used to pay a third of that for a round-trip.”

($1 = 6.8780 CNY)

(Reporting by Sophie Yu and Xiaoyu Yin in Beijing and Brenda Goh in Shanghai; Editing by Myung Kim and Jimmy Fried

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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