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Strong recovery drives hiring in airline sector

By ZHU WENQIAN | China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-24 09:09
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British Airways logos are seen on tail fins at Heathrow Airport in west London, Britain. [Photo/Agencies]

Anticipated increase in travel demand prompts carriers in China to woo talent
Global aviation industry players are continuing to hire more employees in China to prepare for a period of high demand for air travel in the post-COVID-19 era.

British Airways said it is doubling the size of the company's cabin crew bases in China with its biggest international recruitment drive since the pandemic. The job application process has opened for cabin crew roles in Beijing and Shanghai.

As demand for travel between China and Europe grows, British Airways is looking to bolster the number of Chinese-speaking cabin crew members. The number of Mandarin-speaking crew operating flights between Chinese mainland cities and London will increase from two to four per flight, allowing for more personalized service for Chinese customers, the carrier said.

"We are excited to be expanding our bases in both Beijing and Shanghai. Growing our crew bases in Beijing and Shanghai is another step forward in rebuilding the travel industry and boosting the local employment market," said Calum Laming, British Airways' chief customer officer.

China's air travel market has been on a steady track of recovery since the country optimized its COVID-19 response measures late last year. In October, about 56 million air passenger trips were handled, up 252 percent year-on-year, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Meanwhile, European aircraft manufacturer Airbus said talent acquisition is becoming one of its priorities alongside business development and steady growth in China.

Airbus signed partnership agreements with the Sichuan University Pittsburgh Institute and the Civil Aviation University of China in November to impart relevant competencies and skills to young talent.

The plane maker said such agreements are part of its campus programs in China, which intend to attract younger generations to Airbus' local talent pool and contribute to sustainable development of the domestic civil aviation industry.

The agreements aim to foster long-term collaboration in areas such as the development of strategic competencies, technical and soft skills, the design of common educational programs and cooperation on innovative projects, Airbus said.

"In addition to attracting experienced candidates, the need to recruit young talent is increasingly urgent for a more sustainable development of Airbus in China. Developing a talent pipeline is vital to our success," said Ning Fei, vice-president of human resources and workplace of Airbus China.

The agreements would link on-campus enrollments with employment in the industry by way of a joint cultivation base for aviation talent and a dedicated internship program.

In the meantime, the International Air Transport Association announced in September that the strong post-COVID passenger traffic trend continued.

Asia-Pacific airlines in particular saw a 92.6 percent year-on-year increase in their September traffic, continuing to lead other regions in terms of annual improvement. Capacity climbed 82.1 percent and the load factor increased to 82.5 percent, said the IATA, which represents some 300 airlines that command 83 percent of the global air traffic.

China's domestic aviation market continued to perform well, with demand in September jumping 168.7 percent year-on-year on a relatively low base in September 2022, the IATA said.

"The third quarter of 2023 ended on a high note, with record domestic passenger demand for September and continued strong international traffic. With the end of 2023 fast approaching, we can look back on a year of strong recovery in demand as passengers took full advantage of their freedom to travel," said Willie Walsh, the IATA's director-general.

"There is every reason to believe that this momentum can be maintained in the New Year, despite economic and political uncertainties in parts of the world. But we need the whole value chain to be ready. A successful 2024 needs the whole value chain to be fully prepared to handle the demand that is coming," said Walsh.

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