DALLAS – As air travel rebounds across the globe, Chinese airlines are experiencing a surge in applications for cabin crew positions amid a challenging job market.
Unlike cabin crew roles in Western countries, which do not require a college degree and are often low-paid, the role of a Flight Attendant in China usually requires a bachelor’s degree and passing a challenging government-administered English test.
Crews in Numbers
According to the data from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), the total number of cabin crew in China decreased by around 11,000 during the pandemic. This accounted for an 11% decline from the pre-COVID-19 level of 108,955 in the year 2019.
This was mainly due to attrition rather than layoffs, as seen in Western countries. However, as domestic travel recovers and airlines such as Xiamen Airlines (MF), China Southern Airlines (CZ), and Spring Airlines (9C) plan to resume flights to popular international destinations, they are facing a surge of applicants for cabin crew positions.
As a result, airlines can now choose from a record 11.58 million college graduates entering one of the worst job markets in decades, with many companies cutting staff due to a gloomy global economic outlook and weakened export demand.
Hainan Airlines (HU) has already obtained over 20,000 applications for cabin crew roles after revealing plans to hire over 1,000 flight attendants in 2023, reported Reuters.
In February, the airline’s job fair in Jinan drew in 900 candidates, but only 60 were hired, resulting in a selection rate of roughly 6%. Furthermore, CZ, which plans to hire 3,000 cabin crew in 2023, noted having over seven times the number of forms by December’s end.
A Growing Market
Industry experts cited by Skift note that before the pandemic, the success rate of cabin crew applications was around 10%. The job was appealing to many young individuals due to its fairly high salary of between ¥10,000 (US$1,454) and ¥20,000/month, as well as the possibility to travel.
The pandemic took its toll on the job market, with only 6.1% of fresh college graduates earning more than 10,000 yuan per month in 2021. Now, the year-long ground training courses for new hires may delay airlines’ efforts to increase capacity quickly and maintain high airfares.
Regardless, “airlines need to hire now to meet the demand in the future,” said Li Hanming, an independent specialist in the Chinese aviation industry.
Feature Image: Boeing 787-9 China Southern B-20C6. Photo: David Calabresi/Airways